Coronary Artery Disease: Women Can Face Higher Risks

This is the third in our February Medical Monday series on heart health. Dr. Kirsten O. Healy, a new member of the WVFC Medical Advisory Board, has generously agreed to write about cardiovascular and heart health for Medical Monday all this month. Earlier this month she has written about “High Blood Pressure: 10 Important Questions That Could Save Your Life” and “7 Steps to a Heart Healthy Life.” Today she gives our readers intelligent and accessible information about coronary artery disease: what it is, how it harms the body and how to prevent and treat it.

Dr. Healy has been a cardiologist at New York Cardiology Associates since 2010 and is an attending cardiologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center. She is board certified in both internal medicine and cardiology, and is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology. Dr. Healy completed her fellowship training at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center with a focus on clinical cardiology and echocardiography. She has presented papers at numerous national conferences and was the recipient of the American Heart Association Women in Cardiology Trainee Award for Excellence as well as the American Heart Association Laennec Young Clinician Award.

I encourage you to share her thoughtful February posts with friends and family in your community as WVFC joins with many other organizations to raise awareness about prevention and early detection of cardiovascular illness. Remember: Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States.  — Dr. Patricia Yarberry Allen


1. What are the main arteries that supply blood to the heart?

The heart is a muscle and requires oxygen-rich blood to survive. Blood is supplied to the heart through the coronary circulation. The left and right coronary arteries are the two main coronary arteries of the heart that branch off the aorta, which is the main blood supplier to the body. The two main coronary arteries and their smaller branches supply oxygen-rich blood to the entire heart muscle. The left coronary artery divides into the left anterior descending artery and the circumflex branch, and this supplies blood to the left side of the heart. The right coronary artery includes the right posterior descending artery and a large marginal branch, and this system supplies blood to the right side of the heart and the sinoatrial node (the area that regulates heart rhythm). The coronary arteries are the main source of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle and any problem with these arteries has serious health implications.

Coronary Artery Disease (Source: Texas Heart Institute)

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