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Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is a disease in which plaque builds up on the inner walls of your coronary arteries. These arteries carry oxygen-rich blood to your heart. When plaque builds up in the arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis.

Plaque is made up of fat (triglycerides), cholesterol, calcium, white blood cells and other substances found in the blood. Over time, plaque can harden or rupture (break open).

Hardened plaque narrows the coronary arteries and reduces the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart.  This leads to an imbalance between the oxygen demand of the heart muscle and the supply by the narrowed arteries, and can cause chest pain or discomfort called angina.

If the plaque ruptures, a blood clot can form on its surface. A large blood clot can mostly or completely block blood flow through a coronary artery. This is the most common cause of a heart attack. Over time, ruptured plaque also hardens and narrows the coronary arteries.

In addition to angina and heart attack, CHD can cause other serious heart problems. The disease may lead to heart failure, irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia), and sudden cardiac death. Stroke is also a related vascular disease.