What you need to know about coronary artery disease

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coronary artery disease

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Last updated:
03/29/2021

Coronary artery disease is serious because it can lead to a heart attack. This article will help explain coronary artery disease and discuss what you need to know about this major health problem.

Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Even though it is a serious condition, if you know what to watch for and take care of yourself, you can help prevent having a heart attack.

What is coronary artery disease?

Coronary artery disease is not a specific illness but rather a general term for the constriction or blockage of one or more of the three large arteries that supply the heart with blood.

The most common cause for the narrowing or blockage of these arteries is atherosclerosis – which means “hardening of the arteries”, caused by dangerous plaque formation in your cardiovascular system due to lifestyle choices such as obesity, smoking, stress and high cholesterol levels.

What are the symptoms of coronary artery disease?

When you have coronary artery disease, you may have no symptoms at first. As the condition worsens, symptoms develop. These may include:

  • Abdominal pain (in the upper abdomen or in the chest)
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Sudden weakness or numbness in your arm or leg
  • Feelings of anxiety
    If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor right away. These symptoms could be a sign that you are having a heart attack. If you think you might be having a heart attack, call an ambulance immediately and do not drive yourself to the hospital.

What causes coronary artery disease?

Coronary artery disease is caused by hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. This means that fatty deposits called plaque (say “plak”) build up inside the arteries. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. Atherosclerosis can affect any arteries in the body. When it occurs in the ones that supply blood to the heart (the coronary arteries), it is called coronary artery disease.

Are there different types of coronary artery disease?

There are two major types of coronary artery disease:

  • STENT GRAFTING: If your blockage is severe but can be treated with medicine alone, this may be an option for you. In this procedure, the drug-coated stent is placed (or “grafted”) in a blood vessel to keep it open. The stent allows blood to flow through the blocked section of the artery. This procedure is called drug-eluting stenting.
  • STENT PLACEMENT: In this procedure, a stent is placed in an artery to open it up. A stent is a long, wire-mesh tube that expands to help hold the artery open. A catheter (a small, flexible tube) is inserted into an artery in your groin and passed though blood vessels until it reaches the blocked area of your heart. The catheter is then inserted into the blocked area and the stent is placed.

What Can I do to help prevent coronary artery disease?

Get regular checkups – Your doctor should look for any signs of coronary artery disease at least once a year if you are at risk for developing it.

Want to know the warning signs? check here coronary artery disease symptoms and How is it treated?