Developing a thorough understanding of coronary artery disease (CAD) can help fitness professionals fight one of the world’s deadliest diseases.

How deadly? For starters, CAD is the leading cause of death around the world, accounting for 13.2% of all deaths in 2012 (WHO 2014a). It kills almost 380,000 Americans every year (CDC 2014a). Exercise professionals can do something about these statistics by designing fitness programs that reduce CAD risk factors in clients while improving their quality of life.

CAD results from (and is detected by) progressive accumulation of fatty plaque substances, called atherosclerosis, on the inner walls of coronary arteries (NIH 2011). The plaque restricts oxygen-rich blood to the myocardium, or heart muscles.

Note that CAD and cardiovascular disease (CVD) are not the same thing. CAD is just one variety of CVD—a cluster of diseases that include abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure, heart valve disease, congenital heart disease, heart muscle disease, pericardial disease, aorta disease and blood vessel disease.

Four Heart Disease Facts

  1. Every 34 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack.
  2. Each minute, someone dies from a heart disease–related event in the United States.
  3. CAD costs the U.S. $108.9 billion each year in healthcare services, medications and lost productivity.
  4. High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol and smoking are key risk factors for CAD, and 49% of Americans have at least one of them.

Source: CDC 2014b.

To read the full-length feature, please see “Coronary Artery Disease: What Every Fitness Professional Needs to Know” in the online IDEA Library or in the April 2015 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.


CDC. 2014b. Heart disease fact sheet. Accessed Jan. 6, 2015.

Kevin N. Do

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