The leading cause of heart attacks within the United States is coronary artery disease or CAD. This is the number one cause of death for both men and women. In order to make a difference Apex Heart and Vascular Center has a team of expert doctors that are committed to helping you prevent or treat this condition.
What’s Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)?
Coronary artery disease is a condition where the arteries supplying oxygen and blood to the heart become narrowed, due to an accumulation of a waxy substance commonly called plaque. The medical term for this is atherosclerosis. The buildup within the arteries can reduce blood flow and eventually lead to a partial or total blockage that will prevent blood from reaching the heart.
The Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease
Most people do not experience any symptoms until they have a heart attack. However, sometimes patients may have angina. This is discomfort or chest pain that feels like your chest is being squeezed or pressured. Sometimes individuals may experience angina pain in their back, arms, jaw, shoulders, and neck.
Risk Factors for Coronary Artery Disease
Even though some risk factors such as age and genetics cannot be controlled, many can. These factors include:
- Overweight or Obese
- Sedentary Lifestyle
- High Cholesterol
What Can You Do to Prevent Coronary Artery Disease?
In order to prevent coronary artery disease you must:
- Quit Smoking
- Exercise 20 Minutes per Day
- Monitor Cholesterol Numbers
- Monitor Blood Pressure
- Maintain Healthy Weight
- Maintain a Healthy Diet Low in Saturated Fats
How is Coronary Artery Disease diagnosed?
If you or your doctor believes you have CAD, they may conduct one or more of the tests mentioned below:
- X-Ray of the Chest
- Blood Test
- Stress test. This test is done to determine how your heart performs under various levels of stress. When your heart is working harder, it will give your doctor an easier time to diagnose issues. We provide heart stimulation through a number of methods such as using a treadmill or by injecting intravenous vasodilators. However, we only inject this drug when a patient is unable to exercise or use a treadmill.
- Electrocardiogram or EKG. This is a simple non-invasive procedure that is used to interpret the electrical activity of your heart. It uses electrodes that are placed on the legs, chest, and arms. Every heartbeat is coupled with an electrical signal that scans the top of the heart to the bottom. When this electrical signal travels, it will cause the heart to contract and then pump blood. The recording from an EKG test can give a lot of information to your doctor such as: how your heart is working, heart rate, size of the chambers, position of the chamber, heartbeat regularity, and any damage that has occurred to the heart.
- Echocardiogram. This procedure uses sound waves or echoes to create an image of your heart. It can determine tissue damage, location, shape, size, and pump capacity.
- Cardiac catheterization. A cardiac catheterization means inserting a flexible, long, and thin tube into a blood vessel located in the groin or arm and then passed up through to the neck. Doctors will use a contrast dye in order to observe how blood flows to make the arteries visible using x-ray.