What is Coronary Artery Disease?
Coronary artery disease occurs due to some blockade or the narrowing of the coronary artery. In addition, it happens due to the presence of some fatty particles, also known as plaque.
The other most commonly used names of coronary artery disease are coronary heart disease, ischemic heart disease or simply heart disease.
What are the Causes of Coronary Artery Disease?
The primary cause of coronary artery disease is atherosclerosis. It is a condition in which plaque buildup occurs inside your arteries.
Most substances that make plaque include cholesterol, waste products, fibrin, calcium, and fatty acids.
Due to the plaque collection on the walls of your arteries, they become narrow and stiffen. As a result, your arteries become damaged or clogged, hindering the necessary blood supply to the heart.
As a result, the oxygen and other nutrients needed by the heart cannot reach it because of the short pool of blood.
This condition is called ischemia and leads to chest pain which is also known as angina. These kind of condition can lead to a heart attack.
What are the types of Coronary Artery Disease?
There are three types of coronary artery disease which are most commonly known,
1. Obstructive Coronary Artery Disease:
The gradual narrowing or closing of the arteries is the leading supplier of blood to the heart. This is due to the plaque buildup that mostly starts at the teenage and becomes worse quickly in some cases while slowly in others.
2. Non-Obstructive Coronary Artery Disease:
Atherosclerotic plaque that would not be likely to obstruct blood flow or result in anginal symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease?
In most cases, a patient doesn’t have the idea of having coronary artery disease. It takes decades in building up the plaque in the arteries.
As the arteries narrow, you may face difficulty pumping oxygen-rich blood to the body by your heart.
The most common symptoms of coronary artery disease include shortness of breath and chest pain even when you do a little physical activity.
Sometimes the patient doesn’t know that they have coronary artery disease until they get a heart attack. Symptoms of a heart attack include
- Chest discomfort (angina) is described as heaviness, pressure, tightness, aching, numbness, burning, squeezing, fullness, or a dull ache. The discomfort can also spread to or only be felt in your left shoulder, neck, arms, back or jaw.
- Dizziness, lightheadedness
- Feeling tired
How is Coronary Artery Disease Diagnosed?
First, suppose your disorder is an emergency (you’re having a heart attack or stroke). In that case, your cardiologist (heart doctor) will ask you about your indicators, take your medical history, evaluate your risk factors and execute a physical test.
Diagnostic Tests may include:
- Electrocardiograph Tests (EKG): This test records the electrical activity of the heart. Can detect ischemia, heart attack, and heart rhythm issues.
- Exercise Stress Tests: This is a treadmill test to decide how well your heart functions when it’s functioning the hardest. Can notice angina and coronary blockages.
- Pharmacologic Stress Test: Instead of using exercise to test your heart when it is working its most complex, medication is given to surge your heart rate and mimic activity. This test can sense angina and coronary blockages.
- Coronary Calcium Scan: This test measures the quantity of calcium in the walls of your coronary arteries, which can be a signal of atherosclerosis.
- Echocardiogram: This test uses sound waves to see how healthy structures of your heart are working and the complete function of your heart.
- Blood Tests: Many blood tests are ordered for factors that affect arteries, such as cholesterol, triglycerides, lipoprotein, glucose, C-reactive protein, HbA1c (a measure of diabetic control) and other tests.
- Cardiac Catheterization: This test involves inserting small tubes into the heart’s blood vessels to assess heart function with the existence of coronary artery disease.
What is the Treatment of the Coronary Artery?
Your health care specialist will discuss the treatment plan of the coronary artery disease with you. You must follow the treatment plan to reduce the risk of major problems like heart attack and stroke associated with coronary artery disease.
The first step to reducing the risks of coronary artery disease is to make a specific change in your lifestyle.
- Don’t Smoke: If you smoke or use tobacco products, quit. Ask your healthcare providers about ways to stop, including programs and medications.
- Manage Health Problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
- Eat a Heart Healthy Diet: Talk to your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian about ways to change your diet to reduce your risk of heart disease. Good dietary choices include the Mediterranean and DASH diets.
- Limit Alcohol Use: Limit daily drinks to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
- Increase your Activity Level: Exercise helps you lose weight, improve your physical condition and relieve stress. Most people can reduce their risk of heart attack by doing 30 minutes of walking five times per week or walking 10,000 steps per day. Talk to your healthcare provider before you start any exercise program.
Your healthcare specialist will prescribe the medication which is suited best for your artery condition. Types of medication that may be suggested for you include:
- Medication to lessen your cholesterol level, such as statins, bile acid sequestrates, niacin and fibrates.
- Medications to lower blood pressure include beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, or angiotensin II receptor blockers.
- Medications to stop angina, such as nitrates/nitroglycerin or ranolazine.
- Medications to reduce the risk of blood clots, such as anticoagulants (including aspirin) and antiplatelet.
It is essential to take the medication as prescribed by your health care specialist. If you have any questions about your disease, you must also contact your health care provider.