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Coronary Artery Disease occurs when the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that bring blood, oxygen, and nutrients to you heart, become damaged. Damage to arteries occurs due to plaque buildup inside of the arteries, which narrows and hardens them. If plaque buildup completely blocks the artery, a heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction, occurs. Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease. In 2010, it was projected to have cost the US government $108.9 billion in medical fees, medications, and lost productivity. The narrowing of the arteries that occurs in coronary artery disease can result in chest pain (angina) and shortness of breath among other symptoms.
Coronary artery disease is caused by the hardening of the arteries, which is also known as atherosclerosis. So what does this mean? Fatty deposits called plaque build up inside the arteries, the blood vessels which carry oxygen-rich blood to all of your body. These deposits can, with time, block the artery, leading to serious cardiovascular disease, and even heart attack. This build up can be the result of numerous factors, like:
The following are risk factor for developing coronary artery disease:
If your doctor suspects you may have coronary artery disease, he may conduct the following diagnostic tests:
Symptoms of coronary artery disease include:
With effective treatment, the five-year survival rate for coronary artery disease can be as high as 75%. However, if CAD is left untreated and becomes serious, survival rates can be as low as 35%.
Following these few simple tips can help you lessen your CAD symptoms and live a healthier life:
Most heart diseases and risk factors contributing to heart diseases are screened for at regular physicals. The American Heart Association stresses the importance of regular screening for cardiovascular disease. American heart association volunteer and director of William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, Barry A. Franklin, Ph. D., said on the matter, “Regular cardiovascular screening is important because it helps you detect risk factors in their earliest stages. This way, you can treat the risk factor with lifestyle changes and pharmacotherapies, if appropriate, before it ultimately leads to the development of cardiovascular disease. “Your doctor will most likely check the following:
If your doctor suspects you have a heart disease after a thorough examination, he or she may conduct several diagnostic tests to arrive at a diagnosis.
For healthy people, the following steps have been shown to help prevent or reduce the risk factors for coronary artery disease. Keep in mind that reducing one risk factor may help reduce others:
The following medicines are used to treat coronary artery disease:
ACE (Angiotensin-converting enzyme)inhibitors make your heart work less hard by lowering your blood pressure. Some ACE inhibitors are:
Side effects of ACE inhibitors include:
Angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARB)blocks angiotensin II, a substance in the body, from constricting the blood vessels and stimulating salt and water retention. They include:
Side effects of ARBs include:
Cholesterol-lowering drugs, which help to decrease cholesterol that can potentially contribute to the
Side effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs include:
Beta-blockers, which work by lowering the heart rate, thereby reducing the stress on the heart and preventing future heart attacks. These include:
Side effects of beta-blockers include:
*** Beta blockers can cause angina (chest pain) or heart attack if suddenly withdrawn. Never stop taking beta blockers without first talking to your doctor.
Nitroglycerin. Nitroglycerin in patches, injections, pills, and sprays can help to dilate the arteries and allow blood to flow easily, reducing the amount of stress on the heart.
Side effects of nitroglycerin include:
Aspirin. Your doctor may recommend a regular regimen of aspirin to prevent blood clots that can lead to heart attack.
Surgical options may be necessary when diet, exercise, and medications are not able to provide a patient adequate relief.
Surgical options for coronary artery disease include:
Angioplasty/Stent placement. During an angioplasty, the surgeon inserts a long, thin tube into the artery through a small incision, most often in the groin. The tube is then guided to the place of blockage and a small balloon is inflated, allowing blood to flow normally within the artery. Surgeons can also choose to insert a stent, a tubular support that protects the artery from future clots.
Angioplasty and stent placement are minimally invasive procedures, and patients can typically return home the next day after being monitored overnight. Bruising and tenderness may occur at the site of the incision, though patients should be able to return to normal activity about a week after the procedure. Angioplasties are 95% successful in widening the artery. Stents are also successful once implanted. Only 1-2% of people with stents will form blood clots at the stent site.
Coronary bypass surgery. During this procedure, the surgeon bypasses the blocked artery by making a graph with a vessel from another part of the body. This is an invasive open-heart surgery that is only recommended if the patient has multiple serious blockages. Success rates for coronary bypass surgery are between 95 and 98%.
Patients will typically need 1-2 days of close monitoring in an intensive care unit, followed by a hospital stay of 3-5 days. A fully recovery varies from person to person, but typically takes 6-12 weeks. Physical activity should be incorporated gradually to prevent discomfort and complications. Side effects of the surgery typically go away within 4-6 weeks of the procedure and may include:
The following list of supplements is offered by the University of Maryland Medical Center. Always check with your cardiologist or primary doctor before adding supplements to your regimen for treating and preventing heart failure.
Many people with heart conditions take multiple medications, including blood-thinning medications, blood pressure medications, and others. The supplements below may interact with these (and other medications) and may not be right for people with certain medical conditions.
STRESS REDUCTION PRACTICES
Stress reduction practices. Since stress is associated with heart disease, it’s prudent to try techniques to help reduce it. The following methods have been shown to reduce stress in some people:
Call your doctor if:
Call 911 if you are experiencing the symptoms of a HEART ATTACK which include:
You should not hesitate to call 911 if you are experiencing any of these symptoms that come on suddenly. You could be having a STROKE.
You will probably have different questions to ask your doctor depending on your heart condition. Be open about all your concerns. If you’re having difficulty focusing, bring along a friend or family member. Below you’ll find general questions you might want to ask your doctor about heart disease as suggested by the American Heart Association.
QUESTIONS ABOUT MEDICATION
QUESTIONS ABOUT DIET
QUESTIONS ABOUT EXERCISE
How to Stay Relevant While Aging
Extreme Exercise and Heart Health
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