12 things in your home that Lead to Heart Disease
Searching for products?

What Are The Primary Causes & Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease?

  This post may contain affiliate links
coronary artery disease, CAD

Let’s face it: no one likes to be lied to. And yet, we’ve been fed an enormous lie for the past several decades. We’ve been led to believe that fat is the enemy, a one-way ticket to coronary artery disease (CAD) and a life cut short.

We were also told that heart disease is genetic. If it runs in our family, little can be done to change our life trajectory, rendering us powerless against this silent killer. Unfortunately, we were led astray.

The tide is turning, however, and science is exposing the truth: the vilification of fat was unfounded. Instead, we should have focused on inflammation’s role in coronary artery disease. Moreover, the true instigator of this silent killer is not genetics but our less-than-ideal lifestyle choices.

What is coronary artery disease? 

The human heart is like a constant motor, circulating vital blood to each and every corner of our bodies. This blood carries precious oxygen and nutrients, keeping us ticking along. But the heart also needs to nourish itself, and it accomplishes this through its very own network of blood vessels called the coronary arteries.

Now, imagine years of mistreating our bodies; it takes a toll on the endothelium—the smooth, delicate lining inside those coronary arteries. But our bodies are incredible, always trying to mend and heal, so they send in a cavalry of immune cells, cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins, and other helpers to fix the damage. We call this motley crew “plaque.”

The buildup of plaque on the inner walls of arteries can lead to a condition called atherosclerosis, which results in the arteries becoming narrow and stiff. This reduced blood flow can deprive the heart of the vital oxygen and nutrients it requires for optimal function. A particularly concerning complication arises when plaque dislodges from the arterial walls, as this can be a primary cause of a heart attack.

Coronary artery disease symptoms

Unfortunately, most people don’t even know they’re living with coronary artery disease until something disastrous happens. Believe it or not, about half of the men who succumbed to CAD showed no symptoms before their sudden death. That’s why CAD has earned itself the nickname “the silent killer”—it’s lurking around, and we don’t even know it’s there.

On the other hand, sometimes CAD does present with symptoms. Some people experience subtle signs from the body that things are not flowing as well as they should. Symptoms of coronary artery disease may include:

  • Chest pain, tightness or pressure (angina)
  • Shortness of breath, especially during exercise
  • Heart palpitations
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen, or back
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Indigestion
  • Confusion

What causes coronary artery disease?

For years, the prevailing thought behind heart disease centered on genetics and fat consumption. However, the real culprit is inflammation, triggered by poor lifestyle choices and environmental factors.

Chronic inflammation is where it all begins. When the body faces a threat, inflammation signals the body to start healing. Atherosclerosis is more than just sludge on the vessel wall. Years of irritation and injury to blood vessels trigger an inflammatory response, and cholesterol rushes to the scene to repair the damage. Cholesterol has been labeled as dangerous, but it’s actually the responsible one that shows up to fix the problem.

Conventional medicine is all about symptom management. Wouldn’t it be better to investigate the main cause of blood vessel damage rather than just focusing on the body’s response? Addressing the root cause is the best path to healing.

It’s no secret that smoking, excessive alcohol use, and obesity substantially increase the risk of coronary artery disease. But there’s more. Here are six additional causes of damaged blood vessels include:

Poor diet

The typical American diet stands as the primary culprit behind chronic inflammation. Most “food” consumed nowadays is heavily processed, loaded with carbohydrates, unhealthy omega-6 vegetable oils, and synthetic chemicals. Most of what lines our grocery store shelves isn’t real food but food-like imposters.

Picture your body as a fortress under siege when these “foods” enter it. Excess sugar molecules latch onto proteins, weakening and damaging blood vessel walls. Every time blood sugar spikes, blood vessels suffer damage, igniting an inflammatory response. A similar effect occurs with excessive omega-6s and other chemicals.

Our bodies were never designed to handle this type of “food.” Inflammation is a natural protective response intended for occasional use. But regular consumption of these foods causes chronic inflammation, which then leads to atherosclerosis.

Moreover, contemporary dietary practices frequently fail to supply the essential nutrients our bodies require to repair existing damage. Nature has gifted us with incredible substances known as phytonutrients, hidden within colorful organic fruits and veggies. They’re like tiny warriors, battling oxidative stress that can wreak havoc on our bodies. But here’s the catch – we need to eat a whole rainbow of them to feel their true power.

And let’s not forget our friends from the deep blue sea – the omega-3-rich wild-caught fish – and our lovely land-roaming companions, who provide us with wholesome proteins when they’re raised on lush grass pastures. These delectable delights are just waiting to join forces with phytonutrients and help us repair the damage within – if we’d only eat more of them.


Numerous studies have revealed that individuals grappling with stress—whether from losing a dear one or working in high-pressure jobs—are more prone to develop atherosclerosis.

Our bodies are equipped with various means to handle short-term stress. Yet, enduring chronic stress takes a serious toll on our systems. Studies have found that stress ignites inflammation within the body.

Furthermore, stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine are released in response to prolonged stress. These hormones influence blood pressure, causing damage to the blood vessel’s inner lining, and can even trigger vulnerable plaque ruptures.

Toxin exposure

In today’s world, we are surrounded by harmful toxins that are hard to escape. We encounter environmental pollutants in the air we breathe, heavy metals in our water, and pesticides affecting our food sources.

When faced with these toxic intruders, our body’s natural response triggers inflammation. White blood cells are dispatched to combat and eliminate these unwelcome guests. For instance, when we inhale polluted air, our body’s immune system works like a personal SWAT team to fend off the dangerous particles.

Additionally, toxins act like little troublemakers, stirring up oxidative stress – a state where free radicals and antioxidants are thrown off balance. Toxin exposure can also lead to high blood pressure, as no-good chemicals in contaminated water create extra work for our cardiovascular system.

Mold toxicity, an often underestimated health concern, is another key player in coronary artery disease. Like an unwelcome house guest, mold can trigger inflammation and wreak havoc on our body, increasing the risk of arterial hardening and heart-related issues. Studies have found that individuals exposed to black mold may experience higher levels of cholesterol in the body.

Sedentary lifestyle

Leading a sedentary lifestyle is a recipe for poor health. While it’s no secret that exercise is vital for heart health, did you know it can actually help reverse atherosclerosis? Studies reveal that regular moderate exercise can shrink plaque lesions.

Committing to just 20 minutes of exercise per day can lower inflammatory markers. You don’t need intense workouts to reap the anti-inflammatory benefits – overly strenuous exercise can increase inflammation. Instead, strive for 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily to keep those arteries clean and your heart healthy. For example, going for a brisk walk or a light aerobic workout can work wonders for your cardiovascular system.

Poor sleep habits 

Although sleep might not be the foremost concern when considering blocked arteries, it does indeed have a considerable impact. Insufficient sleep, characterized by shorter durations and disrupted patterns, has been linked to atherosclerosis.

The relationship between inadequate sleep and heart disease was not always evident, but emerging research implies that inflammation may be the connecting factor.

Improving your sleep routine, such as eliminating distractions from your sleeping space and rising with the sun, will decrease inflammation and lessen your risk of atherosclerosis.

Sun deficiency

Many of us have been taught to fear the sun, protecting ourselves from its “dangerous rays” with toxic sunscreens that seep chemicals into our skin.

Nonetheless, sunlight is crucial in diminishing the risk of coronary artery disease. As our skin soaks up the sun’s rays, our bodies generate vitamin D and nitric oxide. Research has shown that vitamin D could alleviate arterial rigidity, while nitric oxide aids in relaxing and expanding blood vessels. Combined, these sun-driven advantages lead to reduced inflammation, enhanced blood vessel performance, and, in the end, a lower risk of CAD.

Next Steps

If you have coronary artery disease, odds are you were prescribed a statin to lower your cholesterol. By now, we hope you realize cholesterol is not the problem. While well-intentioned, statins cause more harm than good. Instead, you need to address the root cause of your disease by lowering inflammation in your body.

In addition to following the suggestions outlined above, consider healing yourself from the inside out with our CAD Complete Support Protocol. NHD’s protocol optimizes blood flow, endothelial function, detoxification, nitric oxide formation, and blood vessel integrity. Rest assured, reversing coronary artery disease naturally is 100 percent possible!


You may also enjoy these posts...

About Dr. Keith Smigiel NP, DC

Dr. Keith Smigiel

Dr. Keith Smigiel is a regenerative medicine physician and pain management specialist. He takes an integrative approach to medicine, focusing on customized solutions tailored to individual needs. Using advanced, non-surgical treatments, Dr. Smigiel stimulates your body’s ability to naturally heal itself.

Dr. Smigiel helps people suffering from conditions such as chronic pain and erectile dysfunction, to hair loss and weight gain. Combining treatments such as PRP Therapy, Ozone, Neural Prolotherapy, and IV Infusions with functional rehabilitation, he helps you look and feel better.

He heals the body, instead of just treating the symptoms!

With his professional qualifications as a certified family nurse practitioner, a doctor of chiropractic, and a fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture, Dr. Smigiel offers patients comprehensive care from a broad perspective of conventional and alternative medicine. He also has extensive experience in functional rehabilitation and chronic pain management.

Dr. Smigiel is married to Angela and has two children, Sophia and Larz. When he’s not busy helping patients, he enjoys hiking, mountain biking, motocross, and boating.

About Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

Dr. James Kneller is one of the nation’s leading heart rhythm specialists. Dr. Kneller is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular Disease, and Internal Medicine.

As a Fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society (FHRS) and Certified Cardiac Device Specialist (CCDS), Kneller provides comprehensive patient care, combining best medical practice with invasive procedures using state-of-the-art technologies to treat heart rhythm disorders.

Beyond guideline-directed therapies, Kneller is passionate about optimized personal health. With a deep interest in complimentary alternative medicine (CAM), he strives to reduce the need for pharmaceuticals, invasive procedures, and exposure to harmful radiation. With Natural Heart Doctor, he strives to help each and every client to Live Well, Eat Well, and Think Well to attain their 100-year heart!

About Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD, FACC

Dr. Lattanza Office Visit with Patient

As a Naturopathic Physician, I am trained to treat the whole person and get to the root cause of disease.

I went to Arizona State University where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a depth in physiology and minor in Spanish. After my undergraduate degree I was working on prerequisite classes towards medical school, which is when I came to learn that my values identified best with the principles of naturopathic medicine. I knew that I wanted to help patients identify the causes of disease and be able to offer treatments which would improve their health rather than simply treating symptoms.

I dedicated the next 4 years to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona where I attained my Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine. I served as Class President all 4 years, Board of Trustees – Student Trustee, spoke as the Club President for our branch of Toastmasters, and was voted by my peers and attending physicians to earn the Outstanding Leadership Award for the Class of 2020. Throughout medical school I took it upon myself to work alongside MDs, DOs, chiropractors, and functional medicine practitioners in addition to naturopathic physicians.

As a Spanish speaking student, I was able to volunteer with community clinics around Phoenix and provide free healthcare to low-income families. Due to this combined exposure, I came to find my passion in treating cardiometabolic and digestive disorders that are all too common, yet largely preventable. I took the opportunity to learn the broad spectrum of healthcare so I can ensure that I am able to provide my patients with the best options.

About Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC

Dr. Wolfson Office Visit with Patient

Dr. Jack Wolfson is a board-certified cardiologist, Amazon best-selling author, husband, father, and the nation’s #1 Natural Heart Doctor.

For more than two decades, more than one million people have enjoyed the warmth, compassion, and transformational power of his natural heart health courses and events.

Dr. Wolfson is the founder of Natural Heart Doctor Scottsdale, his heart health practice in Arizona, and Natural Heart Doctor, an online resource center with natural health information. Doctors from across the globe reach out to Dr. Wolfson for training and education in holistic health practices.

He has been named one of America’s Top Functional Medicine Doctors and is a five-time winner of the Natural Choice Awards as a holistic M.D. Dr. Wolfson’s work has been covered by more than 100 media outlets, including NBC, CNN, and the Washington Post. His book “The Paleo Cardiologist: The Natural Way to Heart Health” was an Amazon #1 best-seller.

Dr. Wolfson and his wife Heather have four children and are committed to making the world a better place to live. They provide for those in need (including animals) and support natural health causes through their philanthropic efforts.


Our chiropractor is an expert at adjustments and holistic chiropractic care and works closely in conjunction with the other health care experts at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

IV Therapy

We use specially formulated natural vitamins and minerals that are injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration. Ideal for people in Arizona.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.


Stimulate your body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being with acupuncture at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Health Coaching

Our health coaches use evidence based skillful conversation, clinical interventions, and strategies to engage you actively and safely in health behavior changes.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Cardio Tests

We use the most advanced testing in the world to assess heart health and to identify the root cause of your health issues.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Office Visits

Schedule an office visit with one of our cardiologists, holistic physicians, chiropractor, or health coaches.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’d like to receive an online second opinion from Natural Heart Doctor. What do I do next?

You can initiate a second opinion online through our website at any time. To begin, select the team member you’d like to speak with and open an account.

Click here for cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Lauren Lattanza. Get details.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Tonia Rainier. Get details.

Click here for  Natural Heart Doctor Health Coach.

Alternatively, you can email health@naturalheartdoctor.com. A member of our care team will help guide you through the process of starting a second opinion.

What is the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

The cost for most second opinions varies by team member. This fee includes information collection, a phone or video consultation, a second opinion from a Natural Heart Doctor specialist and guidance throughout the process from your personal Care Team at Natural Heart Doctor.

Cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson’s Second Opinion Fee is $1500.

Holistic Physician’s Dr. Lauren Lattanza’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Naturopathic Physician Dr. Tonia Rainier’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Note: We apply the Online Second Opinion Call fee as a credit to any future consultations with Natural Heart Doctor, should you choose them.

Will my insurance cover the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

Most likely, no. Most health plans do not cover online second opinions or consultations. You are responsible for the cost of our second opinion. Natural Heart Doctor cannot file a claim with your insurance carrier, nor can we provide a procedure (CPT) code for this service.

What is the timeline to receive an online second opinion?

We do our best to schedule your second opinion as quickly as possible. Typically, it takes 5 to 7 business days after your information has been collected to receive your phone or video online second opinion.

What information do you need in advance of our call?

Our office will send you a short questionnaire to complete and return. We DO NOT need your complete medical records.

How many questions can I ask the expert during our call?

You may ask a maximum of five questions. This is to ensure that the expert has sufficient time to devote to each question. All questions must be finalized before your online meeting.

What should I expect to receive once my second opinion is complete?

You will receive a summary of our discussion along with our second opinion. The second opinion will be in written form. After you have reviewed the second opinion, a Natural Heart Doctor clinician will follow up with you by phone to address general medical questions about the information provided in the second opinion.

What if I have follow-up questions for the expert after I have reviewed my second opinion?

If you have a clarifying question about an expert’s response to one of the questions in your second opinion, and the Natural Heart Doctor clinician is unable to address it, then you may request a follow up session for an additional fee. 

Is my medical and payment information secure?

Natural Heart Doctor is strongly committed to protecting the privacy and security of all our patients. Our website meets all federal requirements for protecting personal health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All financial transactions are processed by Natural Heart Doctor securely using industry standard payment processing tools.

I would rather visit Natural Heart Doctor for an in-person appointment. What should I do next?

If you would prefer an in-person appointment at Natural Heart Doctor instead of an online second opinion, please call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Can I schedule a follow up appointment with the specialist who provided my online second opinion?

Yes, we’re happy to help you on an extended basis. Our clinician can discuss options with you when presenting our second opinion summary.