All About Coronary Artery Disease
Heart disease is the most prevalent cause of death in the world,1 and the most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD).2
Here’s a look at the coronary artery and why it is so important to your heart health.
Coronary arteries are the blood vessels that supply blood, oxygen and nutrients to your heart so it can stay healthy and function normally. There are two coronary arteries that wrap around the outside of the heart: the left coronary artery and the right coronary artery. Smaller arteries branch off of these main arteries and deliver blood directly into the heart muscle.
In CAD, any of these arteries can narrow or become blocked by plaque (made up of fatty substances and other material) that builds up along the artery walls – a condition known as atherosclerosis. This reduces the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients to the heart and can lead to chest pain, a heart attack or death.
A normal coronary artery with normal blood flow
A coronary artery narrowed by plaque with restricted blood flow
In their natural state, the coronary arteries expand and contract in order to do two remarkable things:
- When you climb stairs, walk, do chores or exercise, your heart rate and blood pressure increase, which increases your heart’s demand for oxygen. Your arteries temporarily expand or widen to allow for increased blood flow. When you are at rest or asleep, the arteries contract or narrow because your heart needs less blood flow.
- In CAD, the disease progresses and gets worse over time, and plaque continues to build in the arteries. In the face of this, the arteries have the amazing natural ability to adapt to plaque buildup by expanding a bit, and staying expanded, to keep blood flowing and oxygen and nutrients going to the heart.
This natural artery motion and expansion is intended to keep the heart healthy.
The most common treatment for CAD – the drug-eluting stent – is designed to open up the arteries to restore blood flow. They have been proven to do this very well. However, stents are rigid and they permanently “cage” the artery, preventing its natural artery motion. By not allowing the vessel to adjust blood flow to activity level or widen as plaque builds up3, they have been associated with a risk of problems happening later on.4,5 These include follow-on heart attacks, the need for more stents or open-heart surgery, additional hospital stays, and even death.3,4,5
There have been innovations in the treatment of coronary artery disease over the years. The latest treatment – the bioadaptor – works like a stent but is unique in that it allows your artery to move and function more naturally in response to your heart’s needs. Clinical studies have shown that bioadaptors can expand, contract and twist along with the natural artery, unlike stents.6 This special ability holds promise for bioadaptors to improve the long-term experience for patients.
More information about coronary artery disease and bioadaptors
- Cardiovascular diseases. World Health Organization. Accessed August 2, 2021. https://www.who.int/health-topics/cardiovascular-diseases/#tab=tab_1.
- Coronary artery disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed August 21, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/coronary_ad.htm
- Stone GW, Kimura T, Gao R, et al. JAMA Cardiol. 2019 Dec 1;4(12):1261-1269.
- Kufner S, Joner M, Thannheimer A, et al. Ten-Year Clinical Outcomes From a Trial of Three Limus-Eluting Stents With Different Polymer Coatings in Patients With Coronary Artery Disease – Results From the ISAR-TEST 4 Randomized Trial. Circulation. 2019;139:325–333.
- Iqbal J, Serruys PW, Silber S, Kelbaek H, Richardt G, Morel MA, Negoita M, Buszman PE, Windecker S. Comparison of zotarolimus‐ and everolimus‐eluting coronary stents: final 5‐year report of the RESOLUTE all‐comers trial. Circ Cardiovasc Interv. 2015; 8:e002230.
- Verheye S, Vrolix M, Montorfano M, et al. Twelve-month clinical and imaging outcomes of the uncaging DynamX Bioadaptor System. EuroIntervention2020; Jaa-835, 2020, doi: 10.4244/EIJ-D-20-00763.