Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a narrowing or closing of the heart arteries, restricting blood flow to the heart muscle. It can cause chest discomfort and shortness of breath.

It’s caused by plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries. Plaque is made up of deposits of cholesterol and other substances. The buildup of plaque causes the inside of the arteries to narrow over time, which can partially or totally block blood flow. Left untreated, coronary artery disease can limit the ability to exercise and perform daily activities. It can lead to a heart attack.

In 1981, Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute experts performed the world’s first balloon angioplasty—a minimally invasive procedure used to open blocked arteries—to treat a heart attack. The Saint Luke’s interventional cardiology team continues to pioneer new minimally invasive techniques to treat coronary artery disease. Our team has performed more than 2,000 procedures to open completely blocked arteries (chronic total occlusions), which are the most challenging blockages to open with angioplasty.

Call 816-931-1883 or fill out the form to schedule a consultation or second opinion.


Symptoms of coronary artery disease, include:

  • Shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue
  • Chest pain or discomfort, particularly with activity 
  • Irregular heartbeat

Call 816-931-1883 or contact your health care provider if you experience these symptoms.

Risk factors 

  • Age (men over 45, women over 55, or post-menopausal women)
  • Family history of early heart disease
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Unhealthy cholesterol levels (high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol)
  • Unhealthy diet (high in saturated fats, trans fat, sodium, and cholesterol)
  • Diabetes
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Inactivity

Diagnosing coronary artery disease

Heart disease diagnostic testing depends on the severity of symptoms. A heart attack usually requires emergency catheterization and life-saving angioplasty. Other symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fatigue, can be evaluated using diagnostic tests, including stress test, CT angiograms, or cardiac catheterization.


Saint Luke's offers the full range of heart disease treatment options, including:

  • Assistance with implementing lifestyle changes to improve risk factors
  • Medications to improve risk factors
  • Percutaneous coronary intervention (minimally invasive procedure to open blocked arteries)
  • Angioplasty and stent placement
  • Coronary artery bypass surgery