Coronary Artery Disease
CAD is the most common heart disease affecting men and women throughout the world. This happens when plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries - they carry blood, oxygen and nutrients to the heart. The plaques are cholesterol deposits, which narrow down and harden the arteries, as result of which blood flow to the heart is severely obstructed. The condition is also known as atherosclerosis.
Symptoms of CAD
The symptoms of CAD are usually experienced during physical activity i.e. when the heart beats fast and it doesn’t receive adequate amount of blood at the same time. They are:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain, chest tightness, pressure in chest
- Irregular heartbeat, palpitations
- Dizziness, nausea
- Extreme weakness
- Sudden heart attack
When to see a doctor?
You cannot afford to neglect any of the aforementioned symptoms because delayed treatment can lead to an unforeseen heart attack. So seek for medical help on observing the symptoms.
Causes of CAD
We have explained how CAD develops. However, development of coronary artery disease is accelerated by the following risk factors:
- High blood pressure
- High LDL (bad) cholesterol levels
- Over weight and obesity
- Addiction to smoking and alcohol
- Absence of physical activity and exercise
- High stress levels, insomnia, anxiety and tension
- Family history of CAD or heart disease
- Unhealthy diet- high in cholesterol and saturated fat
- Risk is high at an advanced age
Diagnosis of CAD
You fix an appointment with your doctor and make sure you carry all existing medical documents on the day of check up.
Your doctor will check your medical history, diagnose the symptoms and then suggest routine blood tests for lipid profile, C-reactive protein, homocysteine and fibrinogen levels, etc.
Then you will undergo the common heart diagnostic tests which include:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
- Exercise stress tests
- Electron beam (ultrafast) CT scans
- Cardiac catheterization/angiogram
- Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA)
These tests help your doctor to figure out the extent of CAD and its effect on the heart. Accordingly, the treatment will be suggested.
How is CAD treated?
The treatment depends of CAD completely depends upon the blood test and heart diagnostic test reports. Some probable treatment options include:
Medicines: Drugs are prescribed on the basis of your specific heart problem. It could be cholesterol modifying drugs, beta blockers, aspirin, etc.
Lifestyle changes: Modifying lifestyle is the key to CAD management. This involves reducing the risk factors. Healthy weight management, cholesterol, BP and blood sugar management, quitting smoking, exercise and a healthy diet are the milestones.
Can CAD be prevented?
The answer is yes. CAD can definitely be prevented if you can manage those risk factors that are absolutely under your control. You can take the following steps in this regard:
- Get your lipid profile checked twice a year
- Go for walking everyday along with some exercise
- Try to quit smoking and drink in moderation
- Include omega-3- fatty acids in your diet
- Include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, cut down cholesterol rich food
- Stay happy and stress free. Have enough sleep
Listen to your doctor’s advice and incorporate the changes in your life. The complications of coronary artery heart disease can be prevented only when you get yourself treated early.
Date last updated: January 17, 2015