Coronary Artery Disease
Find personalized cardiac treatment for Coronary Artery Disease with the Palm Beach Health Network.
What is Coronary Artery Disease?
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart condition in the United States. Due to plaque buildup in the walls of the major blood vessels that supply the heart (coronary arteries) they are unable to send enough blood, oxygen and nutrients
to the heart muscle. These cholesterol deposits (plaques) in the heart arteries and inflammation are usually the causes of coronary artery disease.
Signs and symptoms of coronary artery disease will occur when the heart doesn't get enough
oxygen-rich blood. If you have coronary artery disease, reduced blood flow to the heart can lead to chest pain (angina) and shortness of breath. The complete blockage of blood flow can cause a heart attack. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms,
it's important you call 9-1-1 immediately. Coronary artery disease often is developed over decades and for some people, the symptoms will go unnoticed until significant blockage causes a heart attack.
What Are the Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease?
Symptoms can often go unrecognized at first, or will only occur when the heart is beating hard like during exercise. As the coronary arteries continue to narrow, less and less blood gets to the heart and symptoms can become more severe or frequent.
Coronary artery disease signs and symptoms can include:
- Chest pain (angina) - Feeling of pressure or tightness in your chest, often occurs in the middle or left side of the chest
- Shortness of breath - A feeling of not being able to catch your breath
- Fatigue - When your heart can't pump enough blood to meet your body's needs, you may feel unusually tired
- Heart attack - The key signs and symptoms of a heart attack include crushing chest pain or pressure, shoulder or arm pain, shortness of breath, and sweating
What Are the Risk Factors Coronary Artery Disease?
Smoking or having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity or a strong family history of heart disease makes you more likely to get coronary artery disease A family history of heart disease also increases your risk for CAD, especially
a family history of having heart disease at an early age (50 or younger).
If you're at high risk of coronary artery disease, talk to your health care provider. You may need tests to check for narrowed arteries and coronary artery disease.
How is Coronary Artery Disease Diagnosed?
To diagnose coronary artery disease, a healthcare provider will examine you and ask important questions about your medical history and any symptoms you have or are experiencing.
The following tests may be ordered by your healthcare professional to help diagnose your condition:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
- Exercise stress test
- Nuclear stress test
- Heart (cardiac) CT scan
- Cardiac catheterization and angiogram
Learn More About Cardiac Catheterization
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How is Coronary Artery Disease Treated?
Treatment for coronary artery disease will typically includes lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating healthy and exercising more. In addition to these changes, your healthcare provider may recommend medications and procedures as needed. At
the Palm Beach Health Network, we offer a full compliment of cardiac service in addition to the latest in technology and imaging to ensure you get the right treatment for you.
There are several medications available to treat coronary artery disease, be sure to consult with your healthcare professional on what will work best for you.
- Cholesterol drugs
- Beta blockers
- Calcium channel blockers
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)
If your healthcare profession determines medical treatment is not enough, they may recommend a procedural intervention to help fix your heart condition.
Coronary Angioplasty and Stent Placement
Coronary angioplasty and stent placement procedures are done to help open clogged heart arteries. It may also be called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). The board certified interventional cardiologist guides a thin, flexible tube (catheter) to
the narrowed part of the heart artery. A tiny balloon is inflated to help widen the blocked artery and improve blood flow.
A small wire mesh tube (stent) may also be placed in the artery during angioplasty. The stent helps keep the artery open and lowers the risk of the artery narrowing again. Some stents will slowly release medication to help keep the arteries open.
Learn More About Cardiac Catheterization
Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery (CABG)
During a CABG procedure, a trained, board certified cardiac surgeon takes a healthy blood vessel from another part of the body to create a new path for blood in the heart. The blood then goes around the blocked or narrowed coronary artery. CABG is typically
an open-heart surgery and typically recommended for those with many narrowed heart arteries.
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