The escalating coronary artery disease (CAD) epidemic in India has made it a significant cause of concern. As per an ICMR report, India accounts for 60% of the world’s heart disease burden. Given the country’s growing rate of heart ailments, more people are now focused on understanding the CAD and CVD as underlying causes of silent killers like heart attacks.

Coronary Artery Disease

As a progressive heart condition, CAD affects the heart’s arteries – the network of blood vessels that transport blood to and from the heart. Plaque build-up in these arteries clogs them, leading to restricted blood flow, resulting in your heart muscles receiving lesser oxygen and blood supply. Cardiac arrest is a common repercussion of plaque ruptures that leads to permanent muscle damage or even heart failure.

The chronic nature of CAD makes managing it costly. Moreover, CAD usually affects people with existing medical conditions. Thus, you might soon exhaust your base insurance cover trying to manage it all. This is where health insurance top-up plans come in handy. They help you manage this chronic condition without stressing over exhausting your coverage or monetary concerns. While this can be your safety net, understanding the causes, risk factors, and symptoms of CAD can help you manage it better.

 Causes of Coronary Artery Disease

CAD is caused by a process called Atherosclerosis. It refers to the build-up of fats and cholesterol on the inner walls of your heart’s arteries. Coronary arteries supply blood to the heart, but the build-up of plaque inside them makes them narrow and stiff. Over time, this can partially or completely block blood flow. A part of the plaque may even rupture, resulting in a blood clot that blocks the artery causing a heart attack.

The causes for Atherosclerosis – the starting point of CAD can be many. Here’s what causes CAD:

  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • A sedentary lifestyle

Risk Factors for Coronary Artery Disease

The health of your heart’s arteries can be affected by different factors, including age, genetics, lifestyle, and existing health conditions. For instance, some people might have a genetic predisposition for CAD, while others might develop it due to poor lifestyle choices. To understand where you stand on the risk factor scale, here’s a comprehensive overview of the various CAD risk factors:

 Non-Modifiable Risk Factors

  • Age – The risk of your arteries narrowing increases with age. Thus, older people are at a greater risk for CAD.
  • Family History – If your parents or siblings suffer from a chronic heart disease, your susceptibility for the same also increases. This puts you at a greater risk of CAD.

 Medical Risk Factors

  • High Blood Pressure – People with high blood pressure are more prone to arterial stiffness, which can result in blood flow and coronary blockages.
  • High Cholesterol – There are two types of cholesterol in our body – good and bad. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is bad cholesterol, while High-Density Lipoprotein is good cholesterol. High LDL and low HDL levels can put you at risk for CAD.
  • Diabetes -Both Type 2 diabetes and CAD share certain risk factors. That’s why diabetic patients are more likely to develop CAD.
  • Chronic Kidney Disease – Chronically compromised kidney function raises the chances of CAD.
  • Obesity – Obesity can cause several chronic conditions, including CAD. It is closely linked to diabetes and high blood pressure, both being CAD risk factors.

 Lifestyle Risk Factors

  • Unhealthy Diet – Consuming a diet rich in saturated fats, trans fats, sugar, and salt can put you at risk for CAD.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle – Lack of exercise can impact your overall mental and physical health. It can also increase your CAD risk exposure.
  • Alcohol and Tobacco Use – Intake of alcohol and tobacco can weaken your heart muscles while also acting as a catalyst for CAD. Additionally, passive smoking can also lead to CAD.
  • Stress – CAD can result from high stress levels that damage your arteries.
  • Irregular Sleep – CAD can be linked to both too much or too little sleep.

 Other than these factors, you can be at risk for CAD if you have gestational diabetes, sleep apnea, preeclampsia, autoimmune diseases, high triglycerides, early menopause, or endometriosis.

 Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease

While acknowledging these factors helps you understand where you stand on the risk spectrum, knowing the symptoms of CAD is also essential to take timely steps. Most CAD patients experience the following symptoms:

  • Angina (heart disease-related chest pain)
  • Shortness of breath

While you can experience these symptoms occasionally, their increasing severity can signal a heart attack. Most people come to their CAD diagnosis after a heart attack. To prevent damaging the heart beyond repair, you should know the symptoms of one:

  • Tightness and pressure across the chest
  • Burning sensation on the chest
  • Indigestion
  • Palpitations
  • Heartburn
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Cramping
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness

Symptoms of heart attacks present differently in women as compared to men. Thus, apart from these symptoms, women can experience insomnia, pain in the belly, back, shoulders, and arms, and hot flashes.


Knowing the causes, risk factors, and symptoms of CAD can help you fight it, avoiding severe consequences like a heart attack or heart failure. Managing CAD risks is the most prudent way to approach the illness. Making lifestyle changes, monitoring existing health conditions, and frequent testing can help you get ahead of the curve.

That said, if you already have CAD, you must know that managing the disease can exhaust your existing health insurance benefits. A health insurance top-up plan can help you avoid paying out of your pocket for tests and surgeries when your primary coverage is exhausted. This way, you can get the medical help you need without dipping into your savings or accumulating a large debt burden.