Described as the deadliest disease out there by some, Coronary Artery Disease is the most common heart disease in United States. Men and women both are victims to this disease. It is the leading cause of death in USA. If the blood vessels that are responsible for supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients to the heart are damaged or diseased, it eventually leads to development of Coronary Artery Disease.
Often, plaque (deposits made up of cholesterol) builds up in these blood vessels and blocks coronary arteries. This decreases the flow of blood to the heart and in turn one experiences chest pain, shortness in breath and many other symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease. In worst case, a complete blockage of blood flow can occur which can cause a heart attack and permanent heart damage.
Causes of CAD
As discussed above, plaque that eventually builds up due to accumulation of cholesterol deposits, leads to Coronary Artery Disease. This process can take years, and one may not even notice unless symptoms like chest pain, etc, start to surface. This process of plaque being built up on the insides of arteries is termed as atherosclerosis. The most common causes of having a coronary heart condition include smoking, continuously having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and resistance diabetes or insulin, and a laid-back daily routine. The dietary habits are also great contributors to this disease.
The risk of having coronary heart disease increases with time. If someone has a family history of this disease, the likelihood of inheriting it increases substantially. People who have a habit of smoking or have high blood pressure, higher levels of blood cholesterol, or have been diagnosed with obesity or diabetes, are prone to Coronary Artery Disease. Similarly, sedentary lifestyle and stressful life conditions are also strong triggers.
Over time, symptoms of Coronary Artery disease start to show up.
- The most common is angina, or chest pain. Though it is felt for a few minutes when doing a stressful task, one feels discomfort or pressure in the middle or left side of the chest.
- Shortness of breath is another symptom which occurs during an exertive task. It may also be accompanied with fatigue.
- Many people also have a heart attack, which is severe pain in the chest extending till the left arm, and till neck and jaw line in case of women.
Coronary Artery disease is diagnosed through a physical exam, considering medical and family history, evaluating the risk factors, and performing diagnostic tests like electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, cardiac catheterization, etc.
Treatment is usually done through medication and considering the factors which have caused the disease to occur in the first place. Measures are taken to remove those risk factors. In much complicated cases, surgeries and other procedures are also done. Other options include Angiogenesis and Enhanced External Counterpulsation.
The risk of developing complexities in this disease is very high, hence the high death toll. Therefore, doctors usually suggest keeping a healthy and active lifestyle to patients who show the earliest symptoms.