What is coronary artery disease and what causes it?

Coronary artery disease, or CAD, happens when plaque builds up on the inner walls of your coronary arteries. This causes your arteries to harden and narrow, which decreases blood flow to your heart. As a result, your heart doesn’t get the blood, oxygen and nutrients it needs, which can lead to chest pain or other symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to a heart attack.

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Learn more about coronary artery disease (CAD) treatment choices

Learn more about coronary artery disease treatment choices

Today, there are many options for treating CAD. See which treatment may be right for you.

"I'm a new person, I got my heart back." - Hear Chan's story.

Real patient stories

See how other people with CAD got back to living the lives they want.

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Have you been told that you have complex coronary artery disease?

Not all coronary artery disease (CAD) is the same. Different factors can make CAD complex.

Sometimes a person’s anatomy or type of blockage in the artery creates a need for a more specialized procedure. Some of these people may be told by their doctors that there are no treatment options other than medication because their disease is so complex or they have been told their blockage is too high risk to fix. But specialized minimally invasive procedures like percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) often can be performed by an interventional cardiologist who has special training.

How do doctors treat complex CAD?

Many of today’s advanced, minimally invasive treatments have been designed specifically to treat people with complex CAD.

Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is the latest minimally invasive advancement designed to treat people with complex CAD. PCI may be a treatment choice even if you have previously been told your blockage is too complex to treat, are on medication and still having symptoms, or have been rejected for heart bypass surgery. So now there are solutions for people with the most complex coronary artery disease—even if a doctor previously said nothing could be done besides medication.

Who are complex CAD patients?

People with complex CAD may have:

  • Advanced age
  • Frail physical condition
  • Severely or totally blocked (or clogged) arteries
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What is chronic total occlusion (CTO)?

Chronic total occlusion is a type of heart disease where an artery becomes fully blocked for at least 90 days. This stops blood from getting to the part of the heart supplied by that artery. Without enough blood flow, the heart does not get the blood, oxygen and nutrients it needs.

Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is a minimally invasive procedure that restores blood flow to the heart without open-heart surgery.

How to get treatment for your coronary artery disease (CAD)

Be sure to talk to your doctor to get started on finding the right treatment choice for you—and the right doctor to perform any procedures.


Patient Resources

Take the Treatment Quiz

Take the Treatment Quiz

Take a quiz to find out which treatment options might be available to you.

Download Discussion Guide

Download Discussion Guide

Use this simple discussion guide to start a conversation with your doctor.