Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease(CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. It is the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States.
CAD occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become clogged with plaque. This build up of plaque is due to cholesterol that has built up over many years or decades. This process is called atherosclerosis.
The artery may narrow suddenly causing a heart attack. More often, however, it slowly narrows the artery causing symptoms of angina. This occurs when the arteries are not supplying enough oxygen to the heart muscle.
Angina presents itself differently in each person. Most people have an ache, pressure, heaviness or discomfort in their chest. Some have it in their neck, shoulders, back, arms or jaws. Others may have shortness of breath, nausea or sweating.
The diagnosis involves a good history taken by your doctor. Tests may include an EKG or some form of stress testing.
Treatment may include medications with or without a heart catheterization with angioplasty and stent or even bypass surgery depending on the nature and number of blocked arteries.
Medications are usually targeted to the risk factors of atherosclerosis. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes.
Life style modification amplifies the drug effects and includes smoking cessation, weight loss, healthy eating habits and exercise.