Coronary Artery Disease

Did you know

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease1.

The disease itself forms via atherosclerosis, a condition defined by a build-up of plaque (or fatty deposits) within the arteries. This plaque build-up causes the arteries to narrow and harden, which may limit the supply of blood, and then oxygen, to the heart and brain, leading to serious events such as heart attack and stroke2.

Risk factors3,4

What you can change:

What you can’t change:

Symptoms and complications

CAD often has no symptoms. However as plaque build-up in the arteries worsens, symptoms begin to develop and the build-up may result in chronic CAD with stable angina1, 4


Chronic CAD with stable angina5, 6


What is it?
When the heart muscle needs more blood and oxygen than it is getting i.e. during physical activity or times of stress.

What are the symptoms?
Uncomfortable pressure, fullness or squeezing pain in the centre of the chest which may also be felt in the neck, shoulders, back and arm.

It is important to understand that although you may not be experiencing any further symptoms, the risk of complications such as heart attack and stroke may still remain even after preventative treatment.

If the plaque build-up is severe, it may result in unstable angina or heart attack.

Unstable angina6, 7


What is it?
Unstable angina is caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle due to arteries being narrowed by plaque build-up or blood clots.

What are the symptoms?
Irregular chest pain which may occur while you are resting or sleeping and possibly get worse over time. If plaque build-up worsens and completely blocks blood flow to the heart, it may result in a heart attack and could be fatal. If you experience this type of new, worsening or persistent chest pain, you must see a doctor as soon as possible.

CAD can also be associated with an increased risk of stroke, should plaque build-up block blood flow to the brain1, and an increased risk of PAD, should plaque build-up block blood flow to the limbs8.


The current standard of treatment includes lifestyle changes, prescription medication, and sometimes surgery7.

Medications7, 9

For cholesterol control
For high blood pressure
For diabetes control
Insulin / antiglycaemic drugs
For blood clot prevention

Main surgeries7

Percutaneous coronary intervention, or PCI10
Coronary artery bypass surgery

Your remaining risk

Patients with CAD are at increased risk of experiencing complications, such as1, 2:

Heart attack

Should plaque build-up block blood flow to the brain.

Cardiovascular death

If you have experienced unstable angina or a heart attack, risk of further complications may still remain even after preventative treatment. This is because plaque build-up can still occur. Scientists are also undertaking research in an area called vascular protection, to explore how risks for further complications can be lowered.