Coronary Artery Disease
What is Coronary Artery Disease?
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. It is the leading cause of death in the world. CAD happens when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed. This is due to the build-up of cholesterol and other material, called plaque, on their inner walls. This build-up is called atherosclerosis. As it grows, less blood can flow through the arteries. As a result, the heart muscle can’t get the blood or oxygen it needs. This can lead to chest pain (angina) or a heart attack. Most heart attacks happen when a blood clot suddenly cuts off the hearts’ blood supply, causing permanent heart damage. Over time, CAD can also weaken the heart muscle and contribute to heart failure and arrhythmias. Heart failure means the heart can’t pump blood well to the rest of the body. Arrhythmias are changes in the normal beating rhythm of the heart.
Angina, or chest pain and discomfort, is the most common symptom of CAD. Angina can happen when too much plaque builds up inside arteries, causing them to narrow. For many people, the first clue that they have CAD is a heart attack. Symptoms of heart attack include
Chest pain or discomfort (angina) Weakness, light-headedness, nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), or a cold sweat Pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulder Shortness of breath
Over time, CAD can weaken the heart muscle. This may lead to heart failure, a serious condition where the heart can’t pump blood the way it should.
How it is diagnosed?
The doctor will ask questions about your medical history, do a physical exam and order routine blood tests. He or she may suggest one or more diagnostic tests as well, including:
Electrocardiogram (ECG Echocardiogram Exercise stress test Nuclear stress test Cardiac catheterization and angiogram Cardiac CT scan
How it is treated?
Various drugs can be used to treat coronary artery disease, including: