Coronary artery disease occurs when the blood vessels responsible for supplying many of the heart’s needs — including oxygenated blood and necessary nutrients — become diseased or blocked off.
This reduces the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body, which can produce a wide range of symptoms. At the same time, the risk of cardiac complications grows more serious.
What Causes Coronary Artery Disease?
Inflammation is a major contributor to many cases of coronary artery disease. However, a case of untreated high cholesterol is often to blame for the onset and progress of the disease.
Cholesterol deposits block and narrow the coronary arteries, causing the supply of blood to be choked off. If cholesterol completely blocks off an artery, a heart attack may occur.
Other risk factors that contribute to the likelihood of coronary artery disease include:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
People who have a sedentary lifestyle are generally more likely than others to suffer coronary artery disease. While coronary artery disease does become more likely with age, regular exercise and a healthy diet can make a significant difference both before and after diagnosis.
Treatment for Coronary Artery Disease
There are several treatment options for coronary artery disease, of which these are just a few:
Lifestyle changes can help to prevent coronary artery disease or alleviate it once it does develop. Patients should cease smoking, eat a balanced diet consisting of plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, and lose weight. Reduce stress whenever possible.
Cholesterol Modifying Medications
Cholesterol is a major factor that can precipitate and worsen coronary artery disease. Reducing the amount of cholesterol in the blood can help ensure that hard plaques made from this sticky substance do not enlarge, causing further blockage of the arteries.
Beta blockers are a common form of medication most typically used to treat high blood pressure. They work by slowing the heart rate and decreasing blood pressure, resulting in reduced demand for oxygen in the heart. They can also curb the risk of a future heart attack.
Calcium Channel Blockers or Ranolazine
Both of these medications can be effective in reducing chest pain symptoms caused by coronary artery disease. They are likely to be prescribed in addition to, or even as an alternative to, beta blockers if it is determined that beta blockers won’t have the desired effect or cannot be used.
Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease
There are three core symptoms of coronary artery disease reported by the majority of patients:
Angina (Chest Pain)
Chest pain is often the first noticeable symptom of coronary artery disease. It can come and go without explanation and does not necessarily occur at the same time as strenuous exercise. The pain presents as pressure or tightness as if there is a weight on the middle or left of the chest.
Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath is associated with the lack of oxygenated blood caused by coronary artery disease. It tends to strike during sudden physical exertion, such as walking up stairs, and it may make strenuous exercise impossible. It fades a short time after the exercise is discontinued.
Coronary artery disease makes heart attack more likely. Heart attack can occur if a cholesterol plaque becomes so severe as to completely block the artery. Crushing pressure in the chest is usually accompanied by pain in the shoulder or arm during a heart attack.
If you’ve been diagnosed with coronary artery disease or are concerned you may have it, Heart Vein NYC can help you. To find out more or get started, contact us today.