Coronary Artery Disease: Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment

Coronary artery disease is a chronic type of heart disease. Coronary artery supplies blood to the heart muscles.  When cholesterol buildup in the inner wall of a coronary artery. This forms plaque which then hardens the wall of a coronary artery. So, the heart muscle could not be supplied with blood and oxygen or there will be sudden rupture of a plaque and blood clot formation occurs. This lead to heart pain also called angina, shortness of breath and heart attack which could ultimately lead to failure of heart and problem with a rhythm of a heart beat.

Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease 

Coronary artery disease narrows the coronary artery which leads to decrease the supply of oxygen to heart muscle during exercise. As plaque continues to build up in coronary arteries person may develop following signs and symptoms:

Angina

Angina is the condition where a person feels pressure or tightness in the middle or left part of the chest, neck, arm or back and even the teeth. It occurs during rest. The pain is triggered greatly because of physical or emotional stress, cold, medicines, and smoking or substance abuse. A person may also feel like indigestion. It may happen over months or years.

Shortness of breath

Coronary artery disease leads to shortness of breath as heart muscle is not supplied with enough blood and oxygen which causes fatigue and there are symptoms of breathing disorder.

Heart attack

Heart attacks also called myocardial infarction occurs if there is a complete cut off the blood supply to the muscle of the heart. This includes crushing pressure in chest and pain in the shoulder, sometimes with shortness of breath, sweating, coughing, greying of a face, nausea and vomiting and restlessness. A heart attack may occur without any clear signs or symptoms. Changing position, resting, or lying down couldn’t relieve the pain and it often occurs constantly. It can last a few minutes to hours. A heart attack is called to be the silent attacker for diabetic and person of age over 75 years.

Abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia)

Inadequate blood supply to the heart or damage to heart tissue cause irregular contraction of heart muscles.

Risk factors for Coronary artery disease

Coronary artery disease is associated with both modifiable and non-modifiable factors. Non-modifiable factors include age, sex, ethnicity, family history whereas modifiable factors include: level of cholesterol in the blood, smoking, poor diet, overweight, sedentary lifestyle and other health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure.

Age

Risk of suffering from coronary artery disease increases with the age. With the incease in age, there is increased risk of narrowing and damage of artery.

Sex

The chances of suffering from coronary artery disease is more in men than in women. Even though chances of suffering from coronary artery disease is higher in women population after menopause yet the number is quite less than male as estrogen can help to prevent in the formation of buildups of plaque in a coronary artery for some years.

Family history

If there is family history of coronary heart disease before the age of 60 years which is associated with increase the risk of coronary artery disease.

Level of cholesterol

There are two types of cholesterol in blood: High Density cholesterol and low Density cholesterol. Low level cholesterol is bad cholesterol which when increase in blood would be the factor to form plaque in the coronary artery.

Modified LDL in the deposited part attracts leukocytes can be scavenged by macrophages leading to the formation of foam cells

Smoking

Smoking significantly increase risk of coronary heart disease as it consists of toxins and increases inflammation, which further increases the buildups. Secondhand smoke is more likely to suffer from coronary artery disease.

It is said that if a woman smokes 20 cigarettes per day is 6 times more likely to suffer from coronary artery disease than never smoked women. Whereas, Men who smoke regularly are 3 times more likely to develop than never smoked men.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure causes coronary arteries to thicken and narrows the space which reduce blood flow.

Diabetes

Diabetes and coronary artery disease have in common risk factors such as Overweight/ obesity, physical inactivity and high stress. Obesity leads to type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure which when grouped together lead to greater risk of coronary artery disease. So, a cluster of conditions such as elevated blood pressure elevated insulin levels, and excess body fat deposited at waists and high triglycerides level which further increases the risk of coronary artery disease.

Sedentary lifestyle

Physical inactivity and poor diet, including consumption of processed meat, trans-fats and fast foods.

Diagnosing coronary heart disease

To diagnose coronary artery disease following procedures must be done:

Electrocardiogram

This technique shows whether there is a blockage in the arteries which underlie heart failure.

Coronary catheterization

A coronary catheter which when threaded through arteries and the x-ray reveals narrow spots or blockages.  

CT scans

CT scans can help to visualize the arteries, detect any calcium within fatty deposits that narrow coronary arteries.

Blood tests

Blood tests can measure the increased level of cholesterol or another condition, such as an underactive thyroid gland, or any condition which may increase the level of cholesterol in blood

Preventing coronary heart disease

If coronary artery be predicted before an occurrence of any signs and symptoms then majority of cardiac events can be prevented. Following are the preventive measures for reducing risk factors:

  • Controlling the levels of blood cholesterol
  • Physical exercise
  • Healthy lifestyle
  • Limiting alcohol taking and quit smoking
  • Consuming healthy diet with reduction of amount of sugar and salt in the food
  • Person with diabetes and high blood pressure must be recommended to consult with doctors for controlling this condition.
  • Managing stress levels

Treatment for coronary artery disease

Coronary artery disease once happen can’t be cured however new technology can at least manage the symptoms effectively. Treatments include changing healthy lifestyles, certain medical procedures and medications. For limiting heart failure, it is recommended to quit smoking and harmful behaviors, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and combating stress.

Bypass surgery and laser surgery can be done which helps to open and reduce the blockage of arteries and also helps in the formation of new blood vessels in heart muscle which helps in circulation of blood to the heart muscle.

Medications

Statins helps in positive impact on outcome of coronary artery disease, aspirin in lower dose reduces blood clotting. Beta-blockers reduce high blood pressure. Nitroglycerin and calcium channel blockers widens the coronary arteries which reduces the demand for blood to heart. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors helps to lower high blood pressure.

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