Coronary Artery Disease

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Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a spasm or occlusion of the coronary arteries and is often the result of atherosclerotic lesions that limit the flow of blood to the heart. There are many risk factors that contribute to the development of CAD including advanced age, diabetes, male gender (under 60 years of age), hypertension, dyslipidemia, smoking, obesity, elevated CRP, psychosocial factors, and possibly infectious diseases. The primary cause of CAD is artherosclerosis; therefore, any factor that contributes to the development of artherosclerosis is also a risk factor for CAD. There is a strong link between CAD and elevated blood cholesterol.

The risk factor of CAD in women goes up dramatically when a woman goes through menopause. Because of this, women have a higher rate of CAD-related mortality than men. This can be because women undergo underdiagnosis and treatment due to atypical symptoms. Many have no symptoms, but the atypical symptoms that may be present include atypical chest pain, palpitations, sense of unease, weakness, mild discomfort in the back, and severe or sudden fatigue. Family history can also play a role through genetics and shared environmental exposures. Most risk factors for CAD are modifiable. Most patients identified as having CAD have risk factors of diabetes, smoking, dyslipidemia, or hypertension. Most often, these risk factors are poorly controlled.If you liked this tip, be sure to check out our other resources for pre-NP students, NP students, and practicing NPs. Shop our NP clinical products here and remember to join our Facebook group for board review questions!

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