Coronary Artery Disease - Causes, Symptoms, Precautions, Diagnosis & Treatment - Medx Health Assistance

Coronary Artery Disease – Causes, Symptoms, Precautions, Diagnosis & Treatment

Overview

The blood vessels that carry blood to your heart are called coronary arteries. A Coronary Artery Disease is diagnosed when these arteries get blocked and hinder the supply of blood to the heart. Coronary artery disease is the most commonly occurring disease of the heart and it is found in almost 70% of adult population. Generally, cholesterol and fatty deposits clog these arteries which reduce the flow of blood to the heart muscles and tissues. Like every organ of the body requires blood to function properly, so does your heart, to perform its function of pumping blood, properly.

Causes

Coronary artery disease can initiate from a very young age. Fatty streaks might begin to build up on the walls of the blood vessel even before you hit your teens. A blood vessel is like a hollow pipe; if there is any obstruction inside this pipe, blood will reach its destination in less amount or not reach at all.

Other substances, such as inflammatory cells, cellular waste products, proteins and calcium that flow through your blood stream, stick to the vessel walls over time, as you grow older. Then these substances and the built up fat or cholesterol, form plaque. 

Plaques are soft on the inside and hard on the outside. The soft fatty inside of a plaque is exposed if the hard outer cap cracks. If this happens, platelets form a blood clot around that plaque, causing further complication.

Blood clots can increase the risk of a heart attack by suddenly blocking the blood supply to a heart muscle or tissue. Although, sometimes blood clots break apart resuming the blood flow.

Symptoms

The most common and identifiable symptom of coronary artery disease is chest pain. Chest pain can be felt in different ways like, chest discomfort, heaviness, tightness, pressure, aching, burning, numbness, fullness, or squeezing. Sometimes this pain may also be felt in the left shoulder, arms, back, neck or jaw. Since, this pain can easily be mistaken for indigestion or heartburn, you must always see a doctor and rule out the risk involved. It is advised that you must not wait for your symptoms to “go away”. 

Other symptoms include:

  • A faster-than-normal heartbeat
  • Sweating 
  • Breathlessness 
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Extreme weakness

Precautions

Since, coronary artery diseases can initiate while you are so young, the first and foremost step is a healthy lifestyle. Making changes in your lifestyle will reduce the risk factors. 

  1. Eat healthy. Talk to your doctor or a dietitian and ensure a balanced and heart healthy diet
  2. Be physically fit and active. Exercising and moving your body helps in weight loss and releasing stress. A 30 minute walk everyday can reduce your risk of heart attack.
  3. Quit smoking. 
  4. Reduce Alcohol Consumption
  5. Avoid stress and tension in your life by doing more of what makes you happy.

Diagnosis

If symptoms of coronary artery disease are evident, it can be diagnosed by tests such as

  • ECG
  • Echocardiography
  • TMT
  • Stress Thallium
  • Blood Cholesterol levels

Treatment  

There are various treatment modalities available for Coronary Artery Disease.

First of all, the site of obstruction or blockage of coronary arteries is ascertained by a non-surgical procedure called Coronary Angiography (CAG).

In Angiography, a small catheter is inserted in the arteries from the wrist or groin.

This catheter reaches the heart arteries, where a dye is pushed into the coronary arteries. 

When the dye passes through the coronary arteries, image(s) is captured in a machine (Cath Lab). This is how the doctor is able to identify which artery is blocked and how much it is blocked.

Depending upon how many arteries are blocked in the heart, a doctor may advise for either Coronary Angioplasty or By-pass surgery as a treatment. 

Angioplasty is the procedure of inserting a long, thin tube (catheter) into an artery through a small incision and guiding it to the area of blockage to clear the plaque.

A Coronary Artery By-pass Surgery creates a new path to provide the heart with oxygen rich blood without any obstruction by removing blood vessels from the patient’s chest, arm or leg.

Medications may also be prescribed to lower your cholesterol level or blood pressure or as treatment to any health conditions you might have. 

The risk of long-term heart damage increases with every second you spend without treatment. Therefore, in the matters of heart among others, seek a doctor without any delay!

 

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