The anterior interventricular artery is more commonly referred to as the LAD, or the left anterior descending artery. It is a branch of the left coronary artery. Coronary arteries supply the heart muscle with much-needed oxygenated blood. The LAD lies in the groove between the two ventricles of the heart, called the interventricular sulcus, and branches into two different types of smaller arteries. The LAD has a few specific functions.
Through its diagonal branches, directly and indirectly, the LAD supplies blood to the anterior, or front portion of the heart. Branches run diagonally away from the LAD to the left edge of the heart. This area of the heart is responsible for ventricular contraction.
The LAD also supplies blood to the apex of the heart. The artery terminates there. The left ventricle composes the apex and is the last chamber of the heart to pump before sending blood to the rest of the body. Improper ventricular function can have catastrophic effects in the body.
The LAD also branches into septal perforators. These septal perforators run from the outside to the inside of the heart. Inside the heart, they supply blood to the interventricular septum that divides the right and left ventricles. The septum keeps unoxygenated blood in the right ventricle from mixing with oxygenated blood in the left ventricle.
According to Georgetown University Professor, Wesley Norman, "The anterior interventricular artery is the one most often involved in coronary occlusions and is often the one that is bypassed in bypass cardiac surgery." This is due to its direct involvement with supplying the interventricular septum and ventricular walls with oxygenated blood. Occlusion can lead to heart attack and heart tissue damage.