Learn How To Prevent Or Treat Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a heart condition that occurs when the blood vessels that flow to the heart become damaged or diseased. Since they can no longer supply adequate blood to the heart, your heart muscle becomes weaker.
Causes Of CAD
CAD is a heart disease caused by plaque buildup in the arterial walls that supply blood to the heart. This plaque consists of cholesterol and other substances that stick to the artery. Plaque buildup causes the insides of the arteries to narrow, which restricts or fully blocks blood from flowing to the heart.
Once the inner wall of an artery becomes damaged, plaque begins to collect around the injury in a process called atherosclerosis. If this plaque surface ruptures, blood cells known as platelets will clump together in an attempt to repair the artery. This clump can block the artery, known as a blood clot, which can lead to a heart attack (myocardial infarction).
Risk Factors For CAD
There are a variety of factors that can lead to increased risk of heart diseases such as CAD. The three main risk factors for what causes heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for Coronary Artery Disease. This medical condition occurs when the pressure in your arteries and blood vessels is too high. High blood pressure can affect other organs as well, including your kidneys and brain. High blood pressure is especially dangerous because it usually has no symptoms. The only way to learn if your blood pressure is too high is to measure it.
If the amount of cholesterol in your body is higher than your body can use, the cholesterol can build up in your arterial walls. This will cause your arteries to narrow and decrease blood flow to your organs, possibly leading to CAD. High cholesterol often has no symptoms, but can be checked with a blood test called a lipid profile.
Smoking cigarettes can damage your heart and lungs, along with your blood vessels, which increases your risk for heart conditions. Nicotine also raises blood pressure, while the carbon monoxide from the smoke reduces the amount of oxygen that your blood can carry. Tobacco use increases the risk for long-term heart disease and also heart attacks.
Other risk factors include uncontrollable things such as age, sex, and family history, so it’s important to work on the factors you can control. These factors include diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity, high stress, and unhealthy diet choices.
Other possible yet less common risk factors are sleep apnea, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, high triglycerides, homocysteine, preeclampsia, alcohol consumption, and autoimmune diseases. Having multiple risk factors at once increases your chances of developing Coronary Artery Disease.
Symptoms Of CAD
Coronary Artery Disease often goes unnoticed until you experience severe heart disease symptoms such as heart attacks, arrhythmias, or heart failure. The symptoms of a heart attack include pain in the upper back and neck, chest pain, indigestion or heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue or dizziness, and shortness of breath.
The symptoms of an arrhythmia are heart palpitations, which is described as a fluttering feeling in your chest. The symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling in the feet, ankles, legs, or abdomen. If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately, as quick treatment greatly decreases your chance of long-term damage.
Prevention And Treatment Of CAD
The main way to prevent Coronary Artery Disease is to actively make healthy lifestyle choices. A simple but effective way to lower your risk for CAD is by treating your heart to a healthy diet; this means choosing fresh fruits and vegetables over processed foods. Limiting your salt and sugar intake and avoiding foods with high levels of saturated fat helps to prevent high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Overconsumption of alcohol can also increase your blood pressure, so be sure to drink in moderation. If you currently smoke tobacco, quitting will greatly reduce your risk for CAD. Quitting is a difficult process, but it is easier with the help of a doctor.
Maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI). Obesity increases the risk of heart diseases due to extra stress on the heart and blood vessels. Regular physical activity is important for losing weight and lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
Another great prevention method is to actively check your health conditions. This means having regular checkups to test your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Your cholesterol should be checked at least once every 4 to 6 years, while your blood pressure should be checked at least one every 2 years. If you have been previously diagnosed with either high cholesterol or high blood pressure, your levels should be tested even more frequently.
All of these methods can also work to reduce the intensity of CAD once it has been diagnosed. It is never too late to make healthier lifestyle choices that lead to greater overall health.
How CVG Can Help
CVG offers a variety of services that can check and treat symptoms of CAD. At CVG, we perform stress tests that will observe blood flow and test for Atrial Fibrillation. There are three types of stress tests that we perform:
A treadmill test is a test in which you will walk on a treadmill that gets faster and steeper every 3 minutes. This will stress your heart so that our nurse or doctor can determine your EKG and blood pressure.
An echo test is performed before and after your treadmill test to determine how well your heart pumps blood.
A nuclear stress test is a treadmill test that is prefaced by an injection of medicine that shows the flow of blood to your heart.
We also offer cardiac catheterization, in which a catheter is inserted into the heart in order to take pictures and conduct tests. This procedure allows doctors to gain more information about your condition and suggest treatment options.
If these tests determine a problem, we offer treatment solutions to fix several conditions. Learn more about our services here, or schedule an appointment to talk to our doctors.