What causes CHD?

By: Elizabeth Scherer

CHD, also known as coronary heart disease, is the result of a process known as atherosclerosis. This process causes your heart's arteries to become narrow or blocked over time by deposits of plaque. Plaque is a buildup of materials such as:

  • fats
  • cholesterol
  • fibrin
  • white blood cells
  • platelets
  • cell wastes
  • calcium

The process that causes this to happen is a slow and complex one. It may actually begin in childhood.


Doctors aren't certain how or why this process starts. Some scientists believe that damage to the inner layer of the artery allows the plaque buildup to begin. Arteries can be damaged by any number of things, including:

  • cigarette smoking
  • high blood cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • high triglycerides
  • diabetes
  • heavy alcohol consumption
  • obesity
  • possibly by infections

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