What Is Coronary Heart Disease?
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Heart disease is caused by narrowing of the coronary arteries that feed the heart. Like any muscle, the heart needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients, which are carried to it by the blood in the coronary arteries. When the coronary arteries become narrowed or clogged by fat and cholesterol deposits and cannot supply enough blood to the heart, the result is coronary heart disease (CHD).

If not enough oxygen-carrying blood reaches the heart, you may experience chest pain called angina. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off by total blockage of a coronary artery, the result is a heart attack. This is usually due to a sudden closure from a blood clot forming on top of a previous narrowing.

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you most probably have CHD.

Have you ever had a heart attack?
Do you suffer from chest pain that has been diagnosed as angina?
Have you had heart surgery such as a bypass operation or a balloon or angioplasty procedure?
Have you ever had an angiogram (a special x-ray picture of the heart) that showed a blockage in your coronary arteries?
You should be sure to talk to your doctor about cholesterol if you have answered yes to any of these questions.

Even if you don’t have heart disease, having diabetes or a combination of several risk factors may put you at high risk for developing heart disease in the future. The risk of developing heart disease if you are diabetic is typically as high as the risk for a heart attack in a person with heart disease. A combination of several risk factors may put you at this same high risk of developing heart disease. Check with your doctor about cholesterol and how to lower your risk.