Coronary Artery Disease is the blockage of the arteries to the heart, that decreases the blood flow. It’s a disease that can be deadly, but Doctors say it’s preventable.

Oklahoma is 2nd in the nation when it comes to people with coronary artery disease. Interventional Cardiologist Dr. VijayaVelury, says CAD can start early in life.

“As we are aging there’s increased accumulation of cholesterol in the vessel walls and that causes narrowing of the arteries,” said Dr. Velury. “So the blood flow is not as much as it normally should be. And the more blockage there is, lessons the blood flow to the heart muscle.”

Eventually, the decreased blood flow may cause chest pain, shortness of breath, or other signs and symptoms. A complete blockage can cause a heart attack.

“There’s a significant amount of mortality from this,” said Dr. Velury. “About 30 percent of people never make it to the hospital….People die even before they can get to a hospital”

Dr. Velury says that time is muscle, meaning the quicker doctors can open up the artery, the less damage your heart will sustain.

“The heart muscle, unlike some of the tissue in our body, cannot regenerate,” said Dr. Velury. “You cannot get new heart muscle. So whatever heart muscle is left tries to compensate for that, but whatever heart muscle is dead, can never be replaced.”

The same lifestyle habits that can help treat coronary artery disease can also help prevent it from developing in the first place.

“The usual risk factors are diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking is a big thing,” said Dr. Velury. “So these are the things that we are focusing on to try to decrease the incidences or prevent a heart attack from happening.”