Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
by Michelle Badash, MS
CAD gets worse over time. Symptoms may not appear in early stages. It is possible to not know you have CAD until complications appear. Over time, CAD may lead to:
Angina is the most common symptom of CAD. It is chest pain or discomfort with a squeezing or pressure-like quality. It is most often felt behind the breastbone. It may sometimes be felt in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaws, or back. Angina is a sign that your heart tissue is not getting all the oxygen it needs. People who have angina are at an increased risk of having a heart attack.
Types of angina include:
CAD can eventually lead to severe complications such as:
Differences Between Angina and a Heart Attack
An angina attack can be frightening. People may mistake it for having a heart attack or just think it is heartburn. A stable pattern of angina does not definitely mean a heart attack is about to occur. Some differences include:
Duration of pain
Note of Caution
If you have chest pain that is new, worsening, or persistent, call for emergency medical services right away .
Heart attacks can cause severe, permanent damage to the heart, or death. Quick medical care may stop some of the damage and increase survival. Ideally care should be given within the first hour after symptoms begin. Emergency medical service can give these treatments on the way to the hospital.
Build up of plaque and damage to blood vessels rarely occurs in the heart's blood vessels alone. Blood vessel damage in other areas of the body may lead to other conditions such as:
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Warning signs of a heart attack. American Heart Association website. Available at:
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Updated January 11, 2018. Accessed March 5, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Last Updated: 3/15/2015
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