Coronary artery disease is considered to be the leading killer disease in America. Coronary artery is the major blood vessel that supplies blood to the heart and due to repeated deposits of fatty substances on the blood vessel it gets blocked due to plaque formation. There will not be normal blood flow on the arteries leading to heart attack or stroke. This condition of plaque formation on the arteries is called arthrosclerosis causing intense blockage.
How does it happen?
Coronary artery disease does not develop overnight but it occurs as a process. A high level of cholesterol in the blood poses risk leading to the formation of plaque like matter on the blood vessel. High cholesterol can develop due to obesity, lack of exercise, wrong diet, and unhealthy food habits. Blood cholesterol has two types of lipoprotein namely Low Density Lipoprotein LDL (bad cholesterol) and High Density Lipoprotein HDL (called as good cholesterol). The piling up of plaque occurs when there is excess of LDL and also due to low level of HDL. This condition occurs due to number of factors including high blood pressure, smoking and obesity.
Gradually the blood vessel gets narrowed due to repeated deposits of cholesterol thus interrupting the normal blood flow. As a result the heart may not receive the vital nutrients like oxygen and other substances. The plague like particles would subsequently make the inner walls of the artery sticky thus facilitating other particles like calcium and lipoproteins to stick on to it thus blocking the vessel still more. To rectify this condition the artery will develop new blood vessel to restore proper blood supply to the heart. However this blood vessel may not be able to manage high input of blood at the time of stress forming blood clots leading to heart attack/ischemia or hemorrhagic stroke. Since the entire process of plaque formation takes years together, unless a person gets heart attack or stroke, it goes totally unnoticed.
Signs and Symptoms :
As the plaque like fatty deposits continue to build up on the arteries it first cuts down the oxygenated blood supply to the heart. So when the person gets stressed or doing workouts he may feel it difficult to breathe. He may develop sharp chest pain and tightness in the chest area. This sharp chest pain is called angina and it would stop within few minutes. The affected person may develop shortness of breath and subsequently he may get a heart attack.
Other symptoms of coronary artery disease are rapid heartbeat, nausea, weakness, shortness of breath and excess of sweating. During an attack, the person may get crushing pressure on his shoulder area, left arm and on his chest along with profuse sweating. Women may not get all these symptoms and sometimes they develop sharp back pain and pain on the left arm. In some cases, heart attack occurs without any symptoms.
As said earlier, coronary artery disease develops due to accumulation of fat deposits on the artery. It occurs due to high cholesterol in blood, high blood pressure, prolonged diabetes and smoking and due to radiation therapy on the chest. Similarly this condition develops due to high level of bad cholesterol in blood or due to low level of good cholesterol.
Who are at risk?
Getting older, having family history of heart disease, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, being in the state of heightened stress or anxiety, prolonged diabetes and lack of physical exercise may contribute for developing coronary artery disease. Being overweight, having sleep apnea, having abnormal levels of C-reactive protein in blood, having increased level of homocysteine and fibrinogen also causes CAD.
Coronary artery disease may lead to heart attack, ischemia, stroke, heart failure, chest pain and abnormal heartbeat.
Depending on the need of the hour, your doctor will conduct many tests for detecting coronary artery disease. He will collect the medical history of the patient after checking his blood pressure. He may order of blood cholesterol test, electrocardiogram test (for detecting any heart attack), echocardiogram (for detecting any damage in the pumping activity of the heart) and stress test.
During stress test, your will asked to work on a treadmill giving artificial test and test the heart’s function during high stress level. Angiogram is a procedure in which the doctor would send a shot of dye into one of the arteries of your heart through a tiny catheter. This dye would then clearly indicate the areas of block or damage inside the artery. CT scan is also done for getting clear image of the arteries. For advanced result, Magnetic Resonance Angiography imaging test is done.
Variety of medications is available for treating coronary artery disease. If the condition is due to high rate of bad cholesterol in blood, then your doctor will prescribe suitable drugs for reducing LDL cholesterol and increase the HDL (good) cholesterol. Medications like niacin, statins and fibrates are given.
Aspirin is an excellent blood thinner given for preventing heart attacks. It would also prevent blood clot formation or plaque formation in the arteries. Beta blockers are prescribed for reducing blood pressure and for preventing stroke or attack. Nitroglycerin is given for reducing chest pain and ACE inhibitors are prescribed for some people for maintaining blood pressure under control.
In severe cases of coronary artery disease angioplasty is done. A lengthy tubing (catheter) is inserted into the artery of the heart through which deflated balloon is sent. This balloon is inflated inside to remove the blockage or plaque deposits on the artery. Bypass surgery is done for many people with coronary artery disease in which the surgeon would create a graft through which free flow of blood is maintained. This surgery is done for people with number of blockages in the coronary artery.
Alternative Medication :
Omega 3 fatty acid is effective for reducing the blockage in the arteries. Fish oil of salmon contains plenty of omega 3 acid and hence it is useful for reducing cholesterol in blood. Flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybean oil is good diet for reducing blood cholesterol. Similarly garlic, barley, artichoke and oat bran is highly useful in reducing fatty deposits in blood.
Pictures of Coronary Artery Disease :
Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Coronary artery disease
Lifestyle Modification :
You can prevent further attacks by making small changes in your daily life and your diet. Eat healthy foods which include plenty of fruits and vegetables. If you are overweight, make all possible efforts to reduce weight. Quit smoking and practice yoga and meditation which will help in reducing stress. Do regular exercises. In case you have blood pressure you should monitor what you eat and follow the instructions of your doctor in taking right medications. The optimum blood pressure for average adult is 80/120 mm of Hg. Go for regular checkups and follow the right diet.
Every person above 30 years should monitor his level of cholesterol once in a year. If there is any discrepancy in the results consult your doctor and take suitable medications for controlling cholesterol. LDL cholesterol level should be below 130 mg/dL. If you are diabetic you need to take measures to keep it under control. Do aerobic exercises at least for 30 minutes a day you can burn more of calories.