Age & Coronary Artery Disease
- As you age, your chances of getting coronary artery disease goes up. In men, the risk for CAD increases after the age of 45, and in women, the risk increases after the age of 55, according to the NIH. If a close family member was diagnosed with CAD at a relatively young age, your level of risk will also increase. With a larger percentage of the U.S. population now past middle age, coronary artery disease is a significant concern.
- Coronary artery disease is the blockage or narrowing of the arteries closest to the heart. This occurs primarily because of the buildup of fatty deposits on the inside of the arteries. This buildup can keep blood from getting into the heart, and starve it of nutrients and oxygen. This often causes chest and shoulder pain. If the blood supply is cut off completely, a heart attack occurs. The older you get, the more time fatty deposits have had a chance to build up.
- Symptoms of coronary artery disease are often different in men than they are in women. For example, a woman with buildup on the inside of her arteries may only notice symptoms after heavy exercise; women don't always experience "typical" symptoms. In general though, men are more likely to get the disease, and are also more likely to die from it. Men generally have a higher risk of heart attacks than women, and are more likely to suffer attacks at an early age, according to the American Heart Association.
- You can't stop getting older, and you can't do anything about genetic susceptibility to heart conditions, but you can reduce other risk factors. As you age, taking care of your body becomes more important. To reduce your risk, you can stop smoking, eat a lower cholesterol diet, become more physically active and reduce your body-fat level. You can also reduce your stress level and alcohol intake to further decrease your risk of coronary artery disease as you get older.
- Overweight people, those with high blood pressure or cholesterol, and diabetes sufferers are at a much higher risk of coronary artery disease as they age. Even if your condition is under control, it's very important to work with your health care provider to make sure that you're in the best health possible. If you have a condition that increases your chances of heart disease, it's vital to do what you can to improve it.