Coronary artery disease (CAD) is caused by plaque buildup inside the heart’s major blood vessels. CAD is a common, but serious condition which affects millions of Americans. Coronary arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle and when plaque builds up inside of them it can cause them to become more rigid and narrowed. When there is a great deal of plaque it can block blood flow to the heart and lead to blood clots or a heart attack.
Symptoms of coronary artery disease
Some individuals with coronary artery disease do not experience any symptoms. As CAD worsens, individuals may experience the following symptoms:
• Chest pain – Chest pain, or angina, is a common side effect of CAD and will usually occur in the middle or left side of the chest.
• Shortness of breath – When the heart is not pumping enough blood to the body it can cause shortness of breath or extreme fatigue with exertion or stress. This may occur with or before chest pain.
• Sweating or lightheadedness
• Nausea, vomiting or indigestion
• Heart attack – If the blood is completely cut off or blocked it will cause a heart attack. If this blockage isn’t treated quickly, the heart muscle stomps pumping blood and begins to die.
Causes and risk factors for coronary artery disease
Coronary artery disease does not develop over-night. As people age, plaque naturally builds up inside of the blood vessel walls. The more that builds up, the greater the risk of heart disease. The following items can increase plaque buildup and in turn, the risk of developing heart disease:
• Heredity – Children of parents with heart disease are much more likely to develop heart disease themselves.
• Smoking – Smoking greatly increasing the risk of heart disease and many other health problems.
• High cholesterol – The higher the blood cholesterol the higher the risk of CAD.
• High blood pressure – High blood pressure increases the amount of work the heart must perform which can damage the arteries, making them more vulnerable to plaque buildup.
• Diabetes – High levels of sugar in the blood increases the risk of developing heart disease. CAD is the cause of death in more than half of all diabetic patients.
• Increasing age – Adults over 65 are more likely to develop and die from coronary heart disease.
Treatments for coronary artery disease
• Managing weight – Maintaining a healthy weight can lower the risk of developing coronary heart disease.
• Quitting smoking – Quitting smoking is one of the best choices that can be made in regards to overall health and wellbeing.
• Working out – Routine physical activity can lower the risk of heart disease.
• Eating heart-healthy – A heart-healthy diet can reduce the risk of CAD. Heart-healthy foods are:
o Fruits and non-starchy vegetables
o Low-fat and fat-free dairy products
o Fish high in omega-3 fatty acid
o Whole grains
o Eliminates red meat, palm and coconut oils and sugary foods and beverages
• Managing stress – The most common “trigger” for a heart attack is stress and anger. Managing stress can improve physical health and reduce the risk of developing CAD.
• Medications – When diet, exercise and managing stress are not enough, a doctor can prescribe medication to help control or lower cholesterol.
• Medical procedure – Sometimes a procedure or surgery is necessary to treat coronary heart disease.
Houston coronary artery disease treatments
OakBend Medical Center is dedicated to providing leading-edge treatments for all cardiac conditions including coronary artery disease. OakBend encourages every patient to be proactive about their heart health because many heart diseases are controllable or even preventable when caught and diagnosed early. The Houston-area board-certified cardiologists at OakBend Medical Center work with radiologists, using advanced imaging technology to diagnose and treat patients with a wide range of heart problems. If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the symptoms of coronary artery disease or any other heart issues please contact OakBend Medical Center today and schedule an appointment by calling 281-341-3000.