Heart conditions are rampant among women, and you may have one and not even know it. However, there early signs that you may have coronary artery disease (CAD) that aren't so obvious, so you can know what to watch out for and when to seek medical attention. According to the American Heart Association, CAD is used interchangeably with "coronary heart disease" (CHD). However, Edward A. Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., an American Heart Association volunteer who is the Leon H. Charney Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and also of the Marc and Ruti Bell Vascular Biology and Disease Program at the NYU School of Medicine, said that CHD is a result of CAD. No matter how the condition is labeled, the scary part is, you may have no symptoms at all. This is when regular checkups and blood work come into play.
I know — coronary artery disease sounds complex, and you may be wondering what it is exactly. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, CAD is the most common type of heart disease. As such, it is also the leading cause of death in the U.S. in women and men. In essence, it occurs when arteries become narrow or hardened (atherosclerosis) — due to cholesterol and other material, i.e., plaque — which affects the blood supply to the heart. When the heart cannot get the oxygen or blood it needs, complications occur, such as an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), a heart attack, or heart failure. The scariest part? Though CAD can be acute and sudden, it can also occur over decades, so the best prevention is maintaining a healthy lifestyle and seeing your medical practitioner regularly, not just when you have symptoms.