Coronary Artery Disease
What is Coronary Artery Disease?
Coronary artery disease (CAD) occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle (coronary arteries) become hardened and narrowed. The arteries harden and become narrow due to the buildup of plaque on the inner walls or lining of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Blood flow to the heart is reduced as plaque narrows the coronary arteries. This decreases the oxygen supply to the heart muscle.
Causes of Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. It is the leading cause of death in the U.S. in both men and women. Lifestyle changes to lower your risk include:
- Stop smoking
- Control diabetes
- Control blood pressure
- Be physically active
- Eat a low-saturated-fat, low-cholesterol diet
Symptoms of CAD
When blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart are reduced or cut off, you can develop:
Chest pain (angina) or discomfort occurs when your heart is not getting enough blood. If your angina symptoms return or you experience symptoms such as pain, fullness, tightness or burning in your chest, arms, or neck, you need to let your physician know right away. It may mean that the blockage has reoccurred.
A heart attack happens when a blood clot suddenly cuts off most or all blood supply to part of the heart. Cells in the heart muscle that do not receive enough oxygen-carrying blood begin to die. This can cause permanent damage to the heart muscle.
Over time, CAD can weaken your heart muscle and contribute to:
The heart not being able to pump blood to the rest of the body effectively, referred to as heart failure. Heart failure does not mean that your heart has stopped or is about to stop working. But it does mean that your heart is failing to pump blood the way that it should.
Or to arrhythmias; which are changes in the normal rhythm of the heartbeats.
Treatments for CAD:
Medical Therapy: there are a number of medicines that can be used to improve symptoms of coronary artery disease and to prevent future heart attacks
Coronary Artery Angioplasty is a non-surgical procedure that can be used to dilate (widen) narrowed or blocked arteries when symptoms are severe or when the blockage occurs in a dangerous location. A thin tube called a catheter with a deflated balloon on its tip is passed into the narrowed artery segment. After the balloon is inflated to widen the artery, the balloon is deflated and the catheter is withdrawn.
Stenting is a non-surgical procedure where a tiny metal coil is expanded inside the blocked artery to open the blocked area and is left in place to keep the artery open.
Atherectomy is a non-surgical procedure that inserts a tiny device on the end of a catheter inside the artery and the plaque is "shaved" away.
Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery (or open heart surgery) is a surgical procedure for patients with extensive blockages.For more information regarding the diagnosis and treatment of coronary artery disease or to make an appointment with a CIVT physician call 212.305.7060