Coronary artery disease is a serious condition, but with lifestyle changes and medication, you can make your heart healthier and stronger.
Coronary artery disease is when cholesterol plaque builds up within the arteries. Cholesterol plays a role in coronary artery disease in that it collects in the arterial walls. This can result in a narrowing of the artery over time, or it can also result in a plaque rupturing into the artery, which causes a heart attack. There is a connection between coronary artery disease and diabetes. Patients with diabetes are more susceptible to developing the cholesterol plaque inside your arteries. And when they do develop these plaques inside of the arteries, they tend to develop in a very diffuse nature, affecting many of the blood vessels supplying blood flow to the heart.
There are several signs and symptoms of coronary artery disease. One, this can cause a stiffening of the arteries. It can cause angina, or cardiac chest pain, or it can result in a heart attack, or weakening of the heart muscle over time. At times, it's associated with discomfort radiating to the neck, jaw, arm, or to the back, oftentimes associated with sweating, perhaps nausea. There's several contributing factors that lead to the development of coronary artery disease. Risk factors include the presence of diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, whether you smoke or not, how active a lifestyle you lead, and your family history.
If someone's having symptoms of coronary artery disease or angina, those symptoms can be treated with beta blockers, nitrates, or other medications that dilate the blood vessels to the heart. If patients continue to have symptoms despite being on adequate medical therapy, that's when we consider revascularization. The message for hope for patients with coronary artery disease is that we currently have many treatments available that decrease your risk of having a heart attack or stroke and extend your life. My name is David Halpin and I'm an interventional cardiologist.
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