CAD: Causes & Treatment Of Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease is a disease where plaque builds up in your arteries and makes it difficult for your blood to pump to your heart. People can have coronary artery disease (CAD) for quite a while before noticing symptoms. However, the symptoms can get severe once too much plaque has built up in the arteries. If you're worried you have CAD, know these symptoms and treatment options so you can understand what to expect.
First of all, you need to know what causes coronary heart disease. As you know, it's caused by the plaque building in the arteries, but what causes the plaque to build up in the first place? There are different factors that can contribute to coronary artery disease. These include:
- High levels of bad cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Blood vessel inflammation
- Diabetes or insulin resistance
- Lack of exercise
These different issues can cause damage in the arteries, and plaque will build up to try and defend against the damage. Eventually, the plaque builds up too much and the arteries become too narrow for proper blood flow.
Symptoms may start out so insignificant, you don't realize what is causing them. If your CAD has progressed, you might experience some of the more-severe symptoms. These may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Angina (chest pain)
- Heart attack
The symptoms might begin with the shortness of breath. When your heart doesn't pump enough blood, the lack of oxygen causes you to have trouble breathing, especially with exercise. When the plaque builds up and the blood flow starts becoming blocked, it can cause chest pain on the left side of your chest, where your heart is located. Once the blood flow becomes completely blocked, you could experience a heart attack. It's a severe, debilitating pain in the left side of your chest that radiates down your left arm.
Treatment for coronary artery disease depends on how far it has progressed. If the plaque buildup isn't severe, you should be okay with lifestyle changes and possibly over the counter or prescription medications. If the plaque buildup is too severe, you might need surgery to remove it. The lifestyle changes include:
- Not smoking
- Eating healthy
- Exercise regularly
- Reduce stress
Medications might include:
- Beta blockers
- Cholesterol modifiers
CAD is a common vascular disease, and it's easily diagnosed by a doctor. If you're worried that you have CAD, make sure you make an appointment before the plaque buildup becomes extreme. To learn more, contact a hospital like Cedar Surgical Associates PC.