CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE TREATMENT
Coronary artery disease, also known as coronary heart disease, is a leading cause of premature death in the UK and worldwide.
There are currently an estimated 2.3 million people in the UK living with coronary artery disease. Many of these people could have their risk of a serious cardiac event reduced by taking simple steps to control their condition.
Coronary Artery Disease Treatment
Every patient is unique, so exactly what treatment for coronary artery disease will look like for you will vary from person to person.
In the first instance, many people are recommended to make positive lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of experiencing a severe cardiac event as a result of CAD. For example, if you usually smoke and have had a heart attack, you’ll be recommended to quit smoking and will be given support to help you do this. Weight loss, nutritional changes and increased exercise can all help to reduce your risk of heart disease and CAD.
What Is Coronary Artery Disease?
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a condition that affects the coronary arteries. These arteries are responsible for supplying blood to your heart and play an essential role in your health.
Coronary artery disease occurs when these arteries become narrowed, or in some cases blocked, preventing oxygen-rich blood from flowing normally to your heart. This normally happens due to a build-up of cholesterol deposits, which is known as plaque.
Plaque lines the inside walls of the arteries, causing them to become progressively narrower. In a similar way to traffic congestion caused by two lanes of road merging into one, the flow of blood gets slower and slower. In advanced cases, the plaque can cause a blood clot to develop that stops the flow of blood altogether. If this happens, it results in a heart attack, which can prove fatal.
Unfortunately, CAD is often referred to as a silent killer, since it’s possible to live with it for many years and not realise until it becomes severe enough to cause a heart attack.
Types Of Coronary Artery Disease
Although plaque formation is the most common cause of coronary artery disease, there are actually several different types of the condition, each triggered by something different.
Coronary Artery Disease Symptoms
One of the biggest challenges of coronary artery disease is that symptoms are often very subtle and develop gradually over a period of months and years. In many cases, people remain unaware that they have CAD until they experience a cardiac event, such as unexpected breathlessness, heart pain or a heart attack.
The symptoms of coronary artery disease include:
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Complications Of Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease can also lead to other types of heart disease if it is left untreated. These include:
Heart failure means that the heart isn’t working as it should be, and the severity of the effects of heart failure can vary from mild to severe. Many people live long lives with mild heart failure, while for others, their ability to perform daily tasks is severely compromised.
Also known as arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat can occur if your heart isn’t getting enough oxygen, which causes the heart tissue to become damaged. This can trigger symptoms like dizziness, tiredness and heart palpitations. An irregular heartbeat can also cause more severe issues, such as blood clot formation and even stroke.
Diagnosing Coronary Artery Disease
Getting a diagnosis of coronary artery disease usually takes place over a series of different steps, starting with an assessment of your risk factors for the condition.
Your cardiologist will ask questions about your lifestyle, your medical and family history, and probably do a blood test to assess your cholesterol level.
Some further heart tests which may be used to confirm your diagnosis could include:
- X-rays of your chest: to check on the size and shape of your heart.
- An electrocardiogram (ECG): a non-invasive test that checks your heart’s rhythm and electrical activity.
- An echocardiogram: a form of ultrasound which is used to look at your heart and blood vessels to see how blood flows through them.
- A CT scan: used to look for calcifications in your coronary arteries that are indicative of obstructive CAD.
Your specialist will explain the results to you and what you can expect to happen next.
Managing Coronary Artery Disease
Unfortunately, there is no cure for CAD, but there are things that you can do to manage your condition and reduce the risk of serious health problems such as angina or a heart attack.
Most patients with CAD manage their condition using a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. These changes can include giving up smoking, eating a healthy, nutrient-rich diet and getting regular exercise.
Your cardiologist will work with you to help you manage your CAD so that it has minimal impact on your day-to-day life.
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