What Is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)?
CAD is a disease in which the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart are narrowed, due to a buildup of a waxy substance called plaque. Medically known as atherosclerosis, this buildup restricts blood flow, and as it progresses can create a partial or complete blockage that prevents blood from reaching the heart.
What are the symptoms of CAD?
Many people do not experience symptoms until they suffer a heart attack. However, for those who are symptomatic, angina is a leading sign. Angina is chest pain or discomfort that feels like pressure or squeezing in your chest. Some people also feel angina pain in their shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back.
What are the risk factors for CAD?
While certain risk factors, such as genetics and age, cannot be controlled, most can. These include:
- High cholesterol
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Being overweight or obese
What measures can be taken to prevent developing CAD?
To prevent CAD:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a heart-healthy diet, that’s low in saturated fats
- Exercise for at least 20 minutes a day
- Quit smoking
- Know your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers
How is CAD diagnosed?
If your doctor suspects you have CAD, he or she may order one or more of the following tests:
- Stress Testing. This test measures how your heart performs under different levels of stress. At Chinatown Cardiology, heart stimulation is either provided by exercising on a treadmill or injection of intravenous vasodilators.The latter is used when medical problems prevent a person from being able to complete the necessary exercise.
- An electrocardiogram (EKG). Electrodes are placed on the chest, arms, and legs to interpret electrical activity of the heart. Each heartbeat is accompanied by an electrical signal that spreads from the top of the heart to the bottom. As the signal travels, it causes the heart to contract and pump blood. EKG recordings give the doctor information about how your heart is working.
- Echocardiography. This is a simple diagnostic procedure that uses sound waves (echoes) to produce images of your heart, including its size and shape, pumping capacity, location, and extent of any tissue damage.
- Cardiac catheterization. This procedure helps determine whether angioplasty or stenting is necessary. A long, thin, flexible tube is inserted into the blood vessel, either in your arm or groin, and passed through to the neck. A contrast dye is injected to make veins and blockages visible on X-ray images.