Coronary Artery Disease - Description
Coronary artery disease (CAD), the leading cause of death in the United States, is one type of heart disease that occurs when the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle (coronary arteries) are narrowed or blocked. This narrowing or blockage is most often caused by the buildup of fat (cholesterol) and calcium inside the walls of the arteries leading to the heart. This process is called atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. The buildup of fat and calcium inside the arteries is called a plaque.
Plaque may narrow the arteries, reducing blood flow to the heart muscle. If blood flow to the heart is reduced, a person may have chest pain (angina).
A plaque may suddenly rupture or tear open, causing a blood clot to form in an artery. When blood flow to the heart muscle is blocked for an extended period of time, this sometimes results in a heart attack (myocardial infarction).
Treatment Options for Coronary Artery Disease
Treatment for coronary artery disease focuses on taking steps to manage symptoms and risk factors as well as reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Coronary artery disease treatment options as well as symptoms and risk factors will vary and you should consult a top coronary artery physician to discuss your individual situation.
Treatments for coronary artery disease might include, for example:
- If your doctor agrees, take a low-dose aspirin each day to reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.
- If you can't control your high blood pressure and high cholesterol with healthier habits, you may need to take medicines. They can help you manage these health problems and lower your risk.
- Your doctor may also suggest medicines if you often have chest pain that makes it hard to do everyday activities.
- If medicines don't help your chest pain, your doctor may suggest procedures to improve blood flow to the heart. Angioplasty with or without stent placement is one way to open clogged coronary arteries. Or sometimes coronary artery bypass graft surgery.
- No matter what kind of treatment you get, healthy habits such as quitting smoking, eating a heart-healthy diet, and getting regular exercise are important.
- Read more about coronary artery disease!
California Pacific's Heart and Vascular Center
California Pacific's Heart and Vascular Center is supported by one of the best heart hospital/center networks in the USA, offering quality, comprehensive patient-centered cardiovascular care by a team of top heart surgeons and physicians with leading-edge technology. Serving the entire San Francisco Bay Area, including San Francisco and Marin County, as well as the entire Northern California region, our team has many of the best cardiovascular surgeons and physicians in California and the United States.