Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) Definition Risk Factors Diet Smoking Cessation Herbal Supplements Exercise Yoga/Tai Chi/Qigong MindBody Therapies Spirituality Pet Therapy Music Therapy Naturopathy Homeopathy Ayurveda Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. DEFINITION Coronary heart disease (CHD) and its related conditions are the most common cause of death in the United States.  Over 925,000 Americans died of cardiovascular disease in 1995, account- ing for 42% of all deaths (1).   There are over 1.5 million heart attacks in the United States each year with one-third of these patients dying before they reach the hospital.  The cost of lives lost is high and so is the financial burden.  Over $100 billion is spent in the United States annual- ly on cardiovascular related conditions. The build-up of plaque, known as atherosclero- sis, within the heart's arteries is responsible for the morbidity and mortality related to this condi- tion.  This plaque, made up of a lipid-rich core and covered with a fibrous cap, can obstruct the heart arteries leading to heart-related chest pain, also known as angina, shortness of breath, or fatigue.  The symptoms can vary widely between individuals, especially women (2). Rupture of this plaque may form a blood clot which can obstruct the artery leading to death of the heart muscle supplied by that artery.  This condition is known as a myocardial infarction (MI) or more commonly, a heart attack.
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