What is a Coronary Blockage?

Article Details
  • Written By: R. Brown
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article

Coronary blockage is when plaque and cholesterol builds up on the inner walls of the heart muscle, causing blood flow to be restricted to the heart. The buildup causes the heart muscle to become firm and narrowed. As a result, the arteries are not able to send as much blood to the heart muscle. This usually leads to chest pains, shortness of breath, or a heart attack.

Since coronary blockage usually begins to develop before teenage years, it may be hard to diagnosis until decades later. As the body ages, fatty deposits begin to build up in the blood vessel walls. In an attempt to heal itself, the cells release a chemical to make the blood vessel walls more adhesive. This causes cellular waste and other fatty deposits to turn into plaque and then become stuck to the blood vessel walls.

The inside of the plaque is usually soft, while the outside is a harden shell. If the plaque breaks open and releases the fatty deposits, platelets form to cause blood clots. In some cases, the blood clots can be destroyed if the blood supply is restored to the blood vessel walls. If the blood supply is not restored, however, the blood clots can cause permanent heart damage and lead to irregular heartbeats.


In addition to age, there are several other causes and risk factors that can lead to this condition. If a person has a history of smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, chances of getting a coronary blockage are increased. Some of the risk factors include obesity, lack of exercise, family history, and high stress.

Gender is also considered a major risk factor. Men are more likely to develop a coronary blockage than women. Women after menopause, however, do increase their chances. In general, coronary blockage is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. It is also the most common type of heart disease.

To determine whether or not a patient has coronary blockage or heart disease, a doctor usually gathers information about the patient’s family history and performs a thorough physical examination. The doctor may also use an electrocardiogram (ECG) device to detect a previous heart attack or a current one. Other tests include a stress test, a magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA), and a computerized tomography (CT) scan.



Discuss this Article

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?