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Wednesday, 15 January 2014 00:00

Managing Your Coronary Artery Disease

What is Coronary Artery Disease?

The heart pumps oxygen-rich blood through the huge network of arteries throughout the body. The blood carries oxygen and nutrients, especially sugar (glucose), needed by organs in the body. In coronary artery disease (CAD), or coronary heart disease, fatty deposits build up on inner layers of coronary arteries. These blood vessels are on the outside of the heart and take blood to the heart muscle itself. These fatty deposits, or plaque, may form in childhood and continue to thicken and enlarge throughout life. This thickening, called artherosclerosis, narrows the arteries, and can reduce or block blood flow to the heart.

More than 12 million Americans have CAD, the number one killer of both men and women in the country.

What are the Risk Factors for CAD?

Risk factors include high cholesterol levels in blood, high blood pressure (hypertension), inactivity, smoking, obesity, diabetes, and a family history of CAD.

What are the Symptoms of CAD?

If too little oxygenated blood reaches the heart, chest pain called angina occurs. A complete block of the blood supply can cause a heart attack, with damage to the heart muscle. Symptoms of CAD depend on how severe the disease is. Some people with CAD have no symptoms, some have mild angina, and some have more severe angina. Other symptoms include feelings of heaviness, tightness, and pressure in the chest; pain in the arms, shoulders, jaw, neck, or back; shortness of breath; and nauseas.

How is CAD Diagnosed?

The doctor will take a complete medical history and do a physical examination and blood tests. Other tests include an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), which records the heart's electrical activity. A stress test (also called treadmill or exercise ECG) and coronary angiography (takes x-ray pictures of arteries) may be done. The doctor may also order nuclear scanning, which uses a radioactive dye to show healthy and damaged parts of the heart.

How is Coronary Artery Disease Treated?

Corontolling risk factors is crucial for preventing and treating CAD. Lifestyle changes include eating a low-fat diet and losing weight (if overweight), following a good exercise program, quitting smoking, controlling blood sugar (glucose) if diabetic, and reducing blood pressure.

Drugs are often prescribed to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and increase coronary blood flow. More severe CAD may need coronary angioplasty, a procedure to widen arteries, which may include using a stent (special device to keep the artery open). The doctor may advise coronary artery bypass surgery, in which blood vessels from another part of the body (e.g., legs) are used to create a new route around blocked arteries.

DOs and DON'Ts in Managing Coronary Artery Disease:

  • DO eat a healthy diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products with less saturated and total fats.
  • DO take your prescribed medicines.
  • DO lower your dietary sodium (salt) intake to no more than 2400 mg per day.
  • DO regular aerobic physical exercise, such as brisk walking (at least 30 minutes per day, most days of the week).
  • DO keep to a normal body weight
  • DON'T smoke or use tobacco products
  • DON'T exert yourself too much, and avoid cold and stress

See attachments below for more information.

Read 1847 times Last modified on Friday, 17 January 2014 15:45

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