Coronary Artery Disease

    • Brief

    • Coronary artery disease (CAD) or coronary heart disease (CHD) occurs when the major vessels carrying blood to the heart are damaged. These damages affect the blood flow in the arteries that supply blood, nutrients and oxygen to the heart. Cholesterol-containing deposits (plaque) in your arteries and inflammation are usually the cause of coronary artery disease. The decreased blood flow to the heart can lead to symptoms including chest pain (angina) and shortness of breath.

    • What are the symptoms?

    • When your heart doesn’t get enough arterial blood, you may experience a variety of symptoms. Angina (chest discomfort) is the most common symptom of CAD. Some people describe this discomfort as chest pain, tightness (as if someone is standing on your chest), and stomach pain.

      These symptoms can also be mistaken for heartburn or indigestion.

      Other symptoms of CAD include:

      • Pain in the arms or shoulders.
      • Shortness of breath.
      • Sweating.
      • Dizziness.

      You may experience more symptoms when your blood flow is more restricted. If a blockage cuts off blood flow completely or almost completely, your heart muscle will start to die if blood flow is not restored. This is a heart attack. Don’t ignore any of these symptoms, especially if they are excruciating or last longer than five minutes. Immediate medical treatment is necessary.

      Women may also experience the above symptoms, but they are also more likely to experience nausea, vomiting, back pain, jaw pain and shortness of breath without feeling chest pain.

    • What are the causes?

    • Coronary heart diseases are caused by injury to the inside of a coronary artery. This injury can be caused by smoking, uncontrolled high blood pressure, high cholesterol and metabolic diseases like diabetes.

    • What are the things that put you at risk?

    • There are many risk factors for coronary artery disease. Some you can change, and some you can’t. They include:

      • Age, especially being older than 65.
      • Being overweight or obese.
      • Having diabetes.
      • Family history, especially if one of your close relatives has heart disease at a young age.
      • Gender. Men have a greater risk of heart attack and have them earlier, compared with women.
      • High blood pressure and high cholesterol.
      • Experiencing a lot of stress.
      • Lack of physical activity.
      • Smoking or inhaling second-hand smoke.
      • An unhealthy diet, including a lot of food with high saturated fats (e.g. butter, fatty meats, sausages), trans fats (e.g. cookies, pie, fried chicken), salt and sugar.
    • When to visit a doctor?

    • If you suspect that you are having a heart attack, immediately call a local emergency number. If you don't have access to emergency medical services, have someone drive you to the nearest hospital. Drive yourself only as a last resort.

      If you have risk factors for coronary artery disease — such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, smoke tobacco, have diabetes, a strong family history of heart disease or obesity — talk to your healthcare provider. He or she may want to test you for the condition, especially if you have signs or symptoms of narrowed arteries.

    • How to prevent?

    • Lifestyle and dietary changes can help you prevent or slow the development of coronary artery disease. You should quit smoking if you smoke, as this is the leading cause of the disease. Other measures include:

      • Reduce or stop your consumption of alcohol.
      • Exercise regularly.
      • Lose weight to a healthy level.
      • Eat a healthy diet that is low in fat and salt.
    • How to manage and treat?

    • Treatment for coronary artery disease usually involves lifestyle changes and, if necessary, drugs and certain medical procedures.

      Adopting lifestyle and diet changes can help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Such as:

      • Quit smoking.
      • Reduce or stop your consumption of alcohol.
      • Exercise regularly.
      • Lose weight to a healthy level.
      • Eat a healthy diet that is low in fat and salt.

      If your condition doesn’t improve with lifestyle changes and medication, your doctor may recommend a procedure to increase blood flow to your heart. These procedures may be:

      • Balloon angioplasty to widen blocked arteries and smooch down the plaque build-up using a balloon inserted into the artery, usually performed with insertion of a stent to help keep the artery open after the procedure.
      • Coronary artery bypass surgery, by redirecting the blood flow using a healthy artery from another part of your body in open-chest surgery, to restore blood flow to the heart.
      • Enhanced external counterpulsation to boost blood flow to your heart and to stimulate the formation of new small blood vessels to bypass clogged arteries. This procedure does not involve surgery.
    • Kulawa cares

    • Lifestyle and dietary changes can help you prevent or slow the development of coronary artery disease. In addition to healthy lifestyle changes, remember the importance of regular medical check-ups. Some of the main risk factors for coronary artery disease — high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes — have no symptoms in the early stages. Early detection and treatment can set the stage for a lifetime of better heart health.