Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the buildup of plaques (fatty deposits and cholesterol) in the coronary arteries which narrows or blocks the coronary arteries, causing reduced blood flow to the heart. The coronary arteries are arteries that transfer oxygen-rich blood to your heart.
Reduced blood flow to the heart can cause chest pain and shortness of breath. When the coronary artery is completely blocked and blood is not flowing to the heart, it could lead to a heart attack.
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) Symptoms
CAD is a progressive disease that develops slowly over time. It might take several years or decades before you start experiencing symptoms.
Signs and symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Heart attack
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) Causes
Plaques that accumulate on the walls of the coronary artery are the common cause of coronary artery disease. It can take decades for plaques to accumulate enough on the walls of the coronary artery to the extent of narrowing or blocking the artery.
Several factors increase the risk of developing CAD. These include:
- High blood cholesterol levels
- A family history of heart disease
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
- Being overweight or obese
- Excessive stress
- Inactivity or lack of exercise
- Eating unhealthy foods
- Men over the age of 45
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) Diagnosis
A physical exam will be conducted and your medical history reviewed. Different tests may be conducted. Tests that may be conducted include:
The echocardiogram test produces images of your heart using sound waves. Your doctor will be able to view your heart and determine if all parts are working well.
Other tests that may be conducted include:
- Exercise stress test
- Nuclear stress test
- Cardiac CT scan
- Cardiac catheterization and angiogram
- Coronary calcium scan
- Blood tests
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) Treatment in Waco, TX
Treatment is aimed at improving your symptoms and reducing your risk of complications.
Treatment options include:
1. Lifestyle Changes
Lifestyle changes help to reduce your risk factors and may stop plaques from building in your coronary arteries.
Lifestyle changes that you should practice include:
- Stop smoking
- Eat healthy foods
- Exercise regularly
- Engage in physical activities
- Lose excess weight
- Reduce stress
- Control your cholesterol and blood pressure levels
- Limit your intake of alcohol
Medications that may be prescribed for coronary artery disease include:
Blood thinners such as aspirin and warfarin can help reduce the tendency of your blood to clot. Blood thinners help to also prevent blood clots and reduce obstruction in the coronary arteries.
These medications help to slow down the heart rate and decrease blood pressure. They also reduce the risk of future attacks.
Calcium channel blockers
These drugs may be used as alternatives to beta-blockers or in combination.
This drug may help with chest pain. It may be used in combination with a beta-blocker or as an alternative.
These medications modify cholesterol deposits in the coronary arteries. They help to reduce bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein in the body.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
These medications reduce blood pressure and may also help prevent the progression of CAD.
If medications don’t improve coronary artery disease, surgery may be recommended.
Surgical procedures for coronary artery disease include:
Angioplasty and stenting
This procedure involves inserting a catheter with a balloon into the narrowed artery. When in place, the balloon is inflated to increase in size and widen the artery to allow blood flow. A stent is placed in the artery to keep it open.
Coronary artery bypass
This surgery is done to create a new pathway for blood to flow through. A healthy artery is harvested from another part of your body and then bypassed through the blocked artery. Blood then flows through the healthy artery.
Can you be cured of Coronary Artery Disease?
It is not curable. Treatment is aimed at improving your symptoms and reducing your risk of complications such as a heart attack.
How long can you live with CAD?
CAD is not a death sentence and doesn’t shorten your lifespan. With effective treatment, you can live your full life with this disease.
What happens if coronary artery disease is left untreated?
If left untreated, coronary artery disease can get worse and cause complications. It could lead to heart attacks or heart failure.
At what age does CAD begin?
CAD is a progressive disease that starts at a very young age. It could take decades before you start to notice any symptoms. It can start even before your teenage. Your lifestyle will determine how slow or fast it progresses. Treatments are usually provided when you start experiencing symptoms.