Coronary arteries, which carry blood to your heart, can be affected by coronary artery disease (CAD) – where one or more of your coronary arteries get blocked or narrow. The most frequent symptom of this is angina, which causes chest pain. Other consequences, such as heart attacks or arrhythmia, can also result from CAD.
Coronary Artery Disease: What Is It?
Narrowing or blocking of your coronary arteries, typically brought on by plaque formation, is known as coronary artery disease (CAD). Your heart receives oxygen-rich blood from your coronary arteries. The amount of blood that can reach your heart is constrained by the plaque accumulation in these arteries.
An analogy might be how two lanes of traffic might merge due to roadwork. As a result, traffic becomes slower. When you have CAD, you will probably not realize that anything is wrong until the plaque causes a blood clot. Similar to how a concrete wall in the centre of the road stops traffic — blood cannot flow through the arteries and reach your heart.
Before having a heart attack, you could have CAD for many years without exhibiting any symptoms. Because of this, CAD can be classified as a “silent killer.”
What Symptoms Indicate Coronary Artery Disease?
You might not experience any signs of coronary artery disease for a very long time, as it is a chronic condition. Plaque development might take years or even decades. However, you can experience minor discomfort when your arteries constrict. These signs can
Show that your heart is working harder to pump blood—rich in oxygen—to your body.
Chronic CAD symptoms include:
- The most typical symptom is stable angina. Temporary chest pain or discomfort associated with stable angina appears and disappears predictably. Usually, you’ll become aware of it when you’re under physical or emotional stress. But it may go away when you sleep or take nitroglycerin (medicine that treats angina).
- Dyspnea: Some people experience shortness of breath when indulging in light physical activity. A heart attack may appear as the initial sign of CAD. Heart attack signs and symptoms include:
- Chest discomfort or pain (angina): Angina can vary. Your shoulder, arm, neck, back, or jaw may become sore from minor discomfort to severe pain.
- Respiratory difficulties or shortness of breath.
- Feeling lightheaded or nauseous.
- Palpitations in the heart
- Nausea, vomiting, or stomach aches
What Causes Coronary Artery Disease?
Coronary artery disease develops when lipids, cholesterol, and other substances build up on the inside walls of the heart arteries. Atherosclerosis is the name of this condition. The accumulation is known as plaque. The arteries may narrow due to plaque, preventing blood flow. The plaque may rupture and cause a blood clot.
Lifestyle factors that cause CAD:
- High consumption of processed carbohydrates or saturated fat.
- Lack of exercise.
- Lack of sleep.
- Consuming tobacco products, smoking or vaping.
How Is Coronary Artery Disease Treated?
Medications, risk factor management, and lifestyle changes are frequently used as CAD treatments. A procedure or surgery can also be advantageous for some patients. Your healthcare professional will discuss the optimal treatment strategy for you. Following your treatment plan is crucial if you want to reduce your risk of developing severe CAD problems:
Changes in lifestyle
Changing one’s way of life is essential for managing CAD. These alterations include:
- Not consuming any tobacco products, smoking, or vaping.
- For a healthy heart, diets low in sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and sugar are consumed. The risk of having a heart attack or stroke has been demonstrated to be reduced by the Mediterranean diet.
- Exercising: Finding activities you enjoy or aiming to walk for 30 minutes five days a week.
- Drinking in moderation.
Risk factor management
Controlling CAD risk factors can slow down the progression of your condition. Managing the following requirements in cooperation with your provider:
- Elevated blood pressure
- Elevated cholesterol.
- Elevated triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia).
You can use medications to manage your risk factors and treat the signs and symptoms of coronary artery disease. Your doctor may recommend one or more of the drugs on the following list.
- Prescription drugs for lowering blood pressure.
- Prescription drugs to decrease cholesterol
- Drugs to treat stable angina. These include ranolazine and nitroglycerin.
- Drugs that lower the risk of blood clots.
When Should I Schedule A Visit With My Doctor?
Your doctor will tell you how frequently you need to visit for testing or follow-ups. In addition to your visits with your primary care provider, you might schedule appointments with specialists (such as a cardiologist).
- If any of the following occurs, contact your doctor:
- Have adverse drug side effects.
- New or changing symptoms,
- Have queries or concerns regarding your condition or treatment strategy.
Message from the Heartscope Specialist Group, Specialists in Cardiology
Finding out you have coronary artery disease might result in various feelings. You might be perplexed as to how this might occur. You might experience regret or wish you’d made a few changes to prevent this outcome. However, now is the moment to look ahead, not back. Give up any sense of blame or shame. Instead, resolve to create a strategy to support your heart, starting right now.
Adopt lifestyle modifications that feel manageable to you while working with your cardiologist. Discover more about available services from Heartscope and how they can help your conditions. Inform your loved ones of your goals – you don’t have to experience this journey alone; Heartscope Specialist Group is always at your service.