Coronary artery disease (or CAD) occurs when there is a buildup of arterial plaque (a condition called atherosclerosis) in the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart. This restricts blood flow, and keeps the heart from getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs to work properly. CAD tends to develop over a lifetime, as deposits of cholesterol build up in the coronary arteries, raising the risk of blood clots. Over time the coronary arteries can become so narrowed that new blood vessels take over the burden of getting blood to the heart, but during times of exertion or stress, the new arteries might be unable to supply the heart with adequate blood to power the heart muscle, and a heart attack occurs.
What are some of the symptoms of coronary artery disease?
The most common symptom to be aware of is angina — chest pain accompanied by heaviness, pressure, aching, numbness, or a burning, aching, or squeezing feeling. Angina is usually experienced in the chest, but can also be felt in the left shoulder, arms, neck, back or jaw. Additional symptoms that might be the result of coronary artery disease include shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat (palpitations), weakness or dizziness, nausea, and sweating.
CAD is most often diagnosed by your Palm Beach cardiologist by discussing your medical history, risk factors, and medical history, and by performing a physical examination that may include tests such as an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), stress tests, and cardiac catheterization.
How is coronary artery disease treated?
How CAD is treated depends on many things – how serious the condition is, your age and general state of health, and the number of existing risk factors that can be reduced. In many cases, conservative treatment involving lifestyle changes to reduce your risk is the first step. This can include changes in diet to avoid processed foods, fats, and sugar, more exercise, smoking cessation, and bringing your blood sugar under control if you have diabetes.
If these treatments do not reduce the buildup of plaque sufficiently, your Delray Beach cardiologist might recommend medications to help your heart work more efficiently and improve the flow of oxygen-rich blood. In severe cases of CAD, surgical procedures such as balloon angioplasty, coronary artery bypass surgery, or placement of stents may be required.
What can I do to reduce my risk of developing coronary artery disease?
Top cardiologists in Palm Beach recommend that one of the most important things you can do is see your cardiologist for regular checkups. This can help to detect risk factors and reduce them before they cause actual disease that must be corrected using more drastic measures.
Your Palm Beach heart doctors can work with you to prescribe diet and exercise programs to lower your cholesterol and reduce your CAD risk. They can also help you to lose weight and stop smoking, two things that can cut your risk of developing CAD in half within a very short time. So give some of the best cardiologists in Palm Beach a call at 561-515-0080 and schedule a checkup today. It won’t take very long, and it could very possibly help to save your life.