FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions):
What coronary artery disease?
Coronary artery disease is a chronic condition in which the coronary arteries, which carry oxygenated blood to the heart, become blocked due to buildup of cholesterol. It is the most common form of cardiovascular disease. Coronary artery disease develops gradually.
First, fatty plaque caused by cholesterol narrows the arteries. The plaque begins to calcify which causes the arteries to become stiff and hard. This is known as arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. If left untreated, it continues to worsen, eventually leading to a heart attack or cardiac arrest, and very possibly, death.
Many people with coronary artery disease develop angina, which is chest pain, or have no symptoms at all. Coronary artery disease is the most common cause of death in our society.
What other problems can be caused by arteriosclerosis?
Arteriosclerosis adversely affects blood flow to all the arteries in the body. When it restricts the arteries to the brain, it causes risk of a stroke.
What is congestive heart failure?
Congestive heart failure is a serious condition in which the heart is weakened and not able to pump enough blood to supply the body with enough oxygen. This results in lung congestion, causing the heart to work harder and worsening the condition.
What are the symptoms of heart disease?
Symptoms can include angina, a discomfort caused by inadequate blood flow to the heart, which causes pain in the chest, arms, neck or back. These symptoms, if they become severe, last more than 10 to 15 minutes and are accompanied by shortness of breath, nausea, sweating or fainting, could be signs of a heart attack.
Women are more likely to experience only symptoms of nausea and vomiting instead of the severe pain experienced by men when a heart attack occurs.
What can be done to prevent heart disease?
Although some risk factors such as family history, gender and age cannot be controlled, there are a number of ways to help reduce the risk factors. These include exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a “heart healthy” diet by reducing the intake of foods high in cholesterol and saturated fats, controlling high blood pressure and diabetes, not smoking, managing stress and controlling chronic depression.
How is heart disease diagnosed?
Several tests can be done to diagnose possible heart disease. These can include checking blood pressure, a chest x-ray and electrocardiogram to detect any abnormalities of the heart, and blood tests, such as cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
What treatments are available for heart disease?
There are many medications that your physician can prescribe to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and control symptoms of angina. If medication, diet and exercise are not effective in treating the disease, and arteries become blocked, open heart surgery may be performed.
What is balloon angioplasty?
Balloon angioplasty is a procedure in which a catheter is guided toward the blocked area in the artery. A second catheter with a small balloon on its tip is passed through the first catheter. The balloon is inflated when it reaches the blockage. This compresses the build-up of plaque and widens the artery in order for the blood to flow. The balloon is then deflated and removed.
What is by-pass surgery?
Coronary artery bypass surgery is a procedure in which a healthy blood vessel is taken from another part of the body (usually the leg or inside the chest wall) and is used to construct a detour around the blocked artery. One end of the blood vessel is grafted directly below the blockage while the other end is grafted directly above, allowing blood to flow to the heart. In a double bypass surgery, two grafts are performed, in a triple, three grafts, and in a quadruple, four.