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Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary Artery Disease or CAD is the most common cause of death in the United States. If diagnosed and treated early it can be managed like a chronic disease, like hypertension and diabetes. Patients with CAD can present as an outpatient to a doctors office or to an Emergency Room at the hospital. They may have symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, or fainting. This disease can also cause heart attacks or sudden cardiac death.

Patients have CAD when they develop progressive deposits of cholesterol and scar tissue in one or more of the 3 main arteries that supply blood to the heart (coronary arteries) called atherosclerosis. Risk factors for atherosclerosis and CAD include age greater than 50, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol. But many patients without these risk factors may develop heart disease as well due to inflammation inside the coronary arteries.

CAD is diagnosed using several tests including stress tests, cardiac catheterization, cardiac CAT scan, and coronary calcium scoring. The cardiologists at Heart and Vascular Care can help determine the best test to diagnose CAD and also how to treat it. Click this HERE to learn more about tests done at Heart and Vascular Care.

Treatment for CAD includes medical therapy, coronary balloon angioplasty and stenting, and coronary artery bypass surgery:

1Medical therapy: Many patient with coronary arteries blockages that are less than 70% or that are not having limiting symptoms can be treated with medications instead of procedures. These medications may include aspirin, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, nitroglycerin, ranolazine, and cholesterol medications known as statins. Also, diet and exercise is an important part of medical therapy.

2Coronary balloon angioplasty and stenting: When a patient is having a heart attack or having symptoms despite optimal medical therapy, a cardiologist inserts catheters into the artery of the wrist or groin and uses contrast dye to image the arteries of the heart. Then the cardiologist can open the closed artery of the heart using a small balloon and also a metallic stent. The physicians at Heart and Vascular Care are experts at performing these procedures using an innovative minimally invasive technique, a single needle stick in the blood vessel of the wrist (radial artery). Click HERE to learn more about these procedures.

3Coronary artery bypass surgery: Some patients with CAD require open-heart surgery known as coronary artery bypass surgery or CABG. This is often recommended when all 3 of the major heart arteries are blocked, if the arteries are 100% blocked, if the heart function is weak, or if the patient is a diabetic.

Patient has a severe blockage in the left anterior
descending coronary artery

The blockage is crossed either from femoral or radial
artery using coronary guide wires that are 0.014 inches
in diameter

After a stent is placed in the artery the blood flow to
that part of the heart is restored