Learning More about Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease or CAD is one of the most common of all heart problems affecting millions of people worldwide. The condition affects the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart. It is also simply referred to as heart disease or sometimes as coronary heart disease.
This disease causes the coronary artery to become clogged with fat deposits that impede blood flow. Over time, the arteries can become diseased and cause problems in the heart.
Causes of Coronary Artery Disease
When plaque begins to collect in the artery walls, these important blood vessels can’t perform at their optimum levels. Plaque refers to cholesterol or fat deposits. Coronary arteries supply the heart with nutrients and oxygen through the blood. When the heart doesn’t receive sufficient blood and oxygen, it cannot function well.
Plaque deposits may cause inflammation in the arteries, which further increases the risks of complications such as heart attacks and blood clots.
Once plaque deposits are significant, other substances like calcium, lipoproteins, and inflammatory cells also begin to collect on the artery walls. The result is extreme narrowing of the blood vessels along with increased pressure on them because of the deposits.
Plaque buildup can occur because of an unhealthy diet, poor lifestyle habits, smoking, excess weight, and genetic factors. If you have high cholesterol in the blood, it is a risk factor for CAD. Hypertension, diabetes, and stress can also contribute to plaque deposits in the arteries.
CAD can cause different symptoms. Chest discomfort or angina is a common sign that indicates problems with the heart. Angina can start in the left or middle of your chest. Any kind of stress can trigger angina.
You may also experience heaviness or tightness in the chest, have difficulty breathing, and experience extreme fatigue. In some cases, you can experience aching or burning feelings in the chest.
Irregular heartbeats, rapid breathing, sweating, and nausea are other symptoms of CAD. If blood clots form, you may experience stroke like symptoms depending on the position of the obstruction. A heart attack is also possible due to the blocked arteries. It can occur with signs such as chest aches or pain in the arms or shoulders, but it can also occur without any signs.
Your doctor will first ask you to discuss your medical and family history of heart disease. He will also inquire about your lifestyle habits and conduct a physical exam to properly assess your quality of health. Your doctor may order tests such as an electrocardiogram, CT scans, echocardiogram, and others.
Treating CAD often begins by making changes to your lifestyle habits. Your doctor will suggest changing your diet and starting an exercise routine depending on your age and health. If you have diabetes, measures will be taken to regulate your blood sugar. For severe cases, surgery may the only viable treatment option left. If you feel any CAD symptoms, it is important to see a doctor without delay.
Contact Our Office
For more information regarding Coronary Artery Disease, contact Houston Cardiovascular Institute today. Dr. Shehzad Sami, a multi-board-certified Cardiologist, can help answer any of the questions you have in a safe and comfortable environment.