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An Up-Close Look at Coronary Artery Disease

Last updated 2 years ago

Each year in the United States, more people die from heart disease than any other cause. Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease, and it’s estimated that nearly 380,000 Americans are killed by this condition annually. For the best possible cardiovascular health, you should discuss your risk of coronary artery disease with your doctor and make heart-healthy lifestyle choices.

Overview

This disease develops when the coronary arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart become damaged, hardened, or narrowed by plaque. When fatty plaque deposits build up in the arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis. Plaque buildup limits the flow of blood through the artery, weakening the heart by depriving it of the oxygen it needs to function properly. Over time, this accumulated plaque is also likely to tear or rupture, and a blood clot will form to repair the artery. A large blood clot can partially or completely block blood flow and cause a heart attack.

Symptoms

Angina, or chest pain or discomfort, is the most common symptom of coronary artery disease. You may also experience a feeling of pressure or squeezing in the chest. Pain can also occur in the neck, jaw, arms, shoulders, or back. In some cases, people confuse angina with feelings of indigestion. Unfortunately, a heart attack may be your first indication of coronary artery disease. If the flow of oxygen-rich blood is cut off from the heart, serious complications like heart attack or even death can result.

Diagnosis & Treatment

If you are at high risk for coronary artery disease, your doctor may recommend undergoing diagnostic tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), echocardiogram, stress test, or coronary angiogram. Some risk factors include smoking, age (over 65), diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Once diagnosed, treatment will focus on lowering the risk of heart attack and managing symptoms. Lifestyle changes like eating a healthier diet, exercising regularly, losing weight, and quitting smoking are recommended. Medications or surgical procedures may also be needed to improve blood flow.

At Fawcett Memorial Hospital, we want our patients to have the best in heart care. As a leading cardiovascular hospital, our team is comprised of the Port Charlotte area’s most respected physicians and staff, specializing in all types of cardiovascular care. Call (888) 685-1599 or visit our website to learn more about Fawcett Memorial Hospital’s cardiovascular services.

 

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