Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of CAD and is linked to many risk factors—primarily elevated serum cholesterol levels, elevated blood pressure, and cigarette smoking. Blood levels of cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) have been associated with increased risk of CAD. Hypertension places chronic stress on the blood vessels and may initiate plaque deposition. Because smoking increases myocardial oxygen requirements, blood pressure, and heart rate, cigarette smokers are twice as likely to have an MI and four times as likely to have sudden cardiac death. Other risk factors include heredity, obesity, lack of physical activity, stress, and diabetes mellitus.

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