Coronary Artery Narrowing

The heart act as a pump to transport oxygen to the tissues. The heart muscle needs oxygen to function. Coronary arteries supply the heart muscles with oxygen. Coronary arteries twist around the heart and divide into small vessels that divide into the heart to bring oxygen to all heart muscles. 

It’s important to keep the coronary artery healthy. When it affects our body function effects. Coronary artery narrowing is also called coronary artery disease. When it happens the oxygen carried to the heart is depleted as a result the function of the heart is impaired. Here is the basic information about coronary artery narrowing, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment that can help you.

Understanding coronary artery narrowing 

the main cause of coronary artery disease is the growth of plaque ( fatty material )within the wall of the coronary arteries this is called atherosclerosis. When the coronary arteries get narrower, it is become difficult for the blood to reach the heart muscle, this result in discomfort and pain called angina.1

It can be acute or chronic. Acute coronary artery disease results from the sudden rupture of plaque and the formation of a blood clot or thrombus. In chronic coronary artery disease narrowing of the coronary artery occurs over time and limits the blood supply to part of the muscle.2

Causes, symptoms, treatment, and diagnosis

What causes coronary artery narrowing 

The main cause of coronary artery disease is atherosclerosis. In atherosclerosis, a fatty plaque made of calcium, fat, cholesterol, and other substances builds up in the inner wall of the coronary arteries. Over time these atherosclerotic plaques become harder, narrowing the opening of the arteries and disrupting the blood flow. When these plaques break resulting in the formation of books clots (thrombosis) that can block the flow of blood to the body. Coronary artery disease develops over time. Fat may start deposit during childhood and then Thicken and build up as the person ages.3 

Other causes include:3 

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure 
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Inactivity 

They are many factors that increase the risk of developing coronary artery disease. Some can be controlled and some can’t be controlled. The risk factors that can be managed or controlled include:3 

  • High blood pressure: make the arteries stiff and hard, increasing the risk of atherosclrosis
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol levels: high cholesterol levels increase the build up of cholesterol plaque 
  • Overweight or obesity: being obese increases the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease
  • Inactivity 
  • Poor nutrition: unbalanced diet that contains high fat, cholesterol, and sugar increase the risk of being obese, developing high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Smoking: increase the risk for atherosclerotic plaques
  • Alcohol: long term alcohol intake damages the heart muscles
  • Stress: long term stress damage the arteries

The risk factors that can not be manage or controlled include:3

  • Age: coronary artery disease common with increasing age
  • Gender: men have a higher risk of coronary heart disease than women. The risk increase in women after menopause
  • Family history of heart disease

What are the symptoms of coronary artery narrowing 

Symptoms depends on the severity of the disease. Some people may be asymptomatic (with no symptoms) and others may express mild to severe symptoms. The main sign includes:3

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain (angina): this pain occurs in the middle or left side of the chest because the heart not receiving enough oxygen. You may be feeling pressure or tightness in the chest 
  • Pain spreading to the arm, shoulder, jaw, and neck: these symptoms indicated a heart attack, that causes by severely blocked coronary artery

Women may experience different symptoms than men, like nausea and neck and jaw pain

How is coronary artery treated

Treatment helps to manage the symptoms and reduce the risk of combination, such as heart attack. Treatment includes:3

1. Medication: described by your Doctor to treat specific factors such as 

  • Antiplatelet to decrease blood clotting
  • Blood Pressure medication to lower blood pressure
  • Medication to reduce cholesterol levels 

2. If the blood vessels are blocked. Surgery may be needed to restore the blood flow. These procedures include:

  • Coronary angioplasty: a small mesh tube is inserted to open the blacked area of the artery and left inside to keep the artery open
  • Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG): healthy blood vessels are taken from other parts of the body and grafted to each side of the blocked artery to bypass the blockage and improve blood flow

3. Lifestyle change: include the following:

  • Lowering cholesterol levels by dietary choice
  • Controlling high blood pressure by dietary choice
  • Quitting smoking
  • Limiting alcohol consumption
  • Being physically active
  • Eating balanced diets

How is coronary artery diagnosed 

To diagnose coronary artery disease your doctor do:3

  • Complete family and personal medical history 
  • Physical exam 
  • Blood tests 

Other test include:3

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): This test record the electrical activity of the heart that can show the abnormal cardiac rhythms and detect damage to the heart muscles
  • Stress test:in this test the blood pressure, breathing, and heart rates are monitored while you are walking on the treadmill
  • Imaging scan: through different techniques the artery, structure, and blood flow to the heart can be visualized, monitored, and indicated where the blocked arteries are or damaged area of the heart The imaging scan includes radionuclide imaging and cardiac catheterization


Can coronary artery narrowing be prevented? If so, how?

Yes, you can. Preventing coronary artery disease is done by controlling the major risk factors. 

Prevention by:4 

  • Never smoke
  • Become more active and stay active all through life 
  • Keep your weight within the normal range
  • Eat a balanced diet 
  • Find a healthy outlet for your

When to see a doctor 

When you have any of the symptoms mentioned above. If you have one of the risk factors to develop coronary artery disease then you must see your doctor


Coronary artery narrowing the main cause of coronary artery disease is the growth of plaque ( fatty material )within the wall of the coronary arteries this is called atherosclerosis. When the coronary arteries get narrower, it is become difficult for the blood to reach the heart muscle, this result in discomfort and pain called angina. Symptoms depend on the severity of the disease. The main sign include Fatigue, Shortness of breath, and Chest pain (angina) The main cause of coronary artery disease is atherosclerosis. Treatment helps to manage the symptoms and reduce the risk of combination, such as heart attack. The treatment includes medication, surgery, and management of lifestyle. Prevention by Never smoking, Becoming more active and staying active all through life, Keeping your weight within normal range, Eating a balanced diet and Finding a healthy outlet for your


  1. Coronary artery disease cad- ischaemic heart disease—Heart foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved 25 November 2022, from 
  2. Coronary artery disease—Coronary heart disease. (n.d.). Www.Heart.Org. Retrieved 25 November 2022, from 
  3. Coronary heart disease • heart research institute. (n.d.). Heart Research Institute. Retrieved 25 November 2022, from 
  4. Coronary artery disease: Prevention, treatment and research. (2021, July 7). 
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Malaz Ameer Ata Almanan

Medical Student - University of Bahri, Khartoum, Sudan

Malaz Ameer Ata Almanan Mohammed. 4th year medical student. Researcher enthusiast. Passionate about ophthalmic surgery. I would like to be ophthalmologist.

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