Coronary Heart Disease
The arteries that deliver oxygen and nutrient rich blood directly to the heart become diseased (atherosclerosis).
What is Coronary Heart Disease?
Coronary Heart Disease is a condition in which the major arteries surrounding the heart become diseased. These arteries are called the Coronary Arteries, and they are responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrient rich blood directly to the heart. When these arteries become compromised, a patient’s predisposition towards heart complications becomes considerably higher.
The diseasing of the coronary arteries usually comes as a result of plaque building up within the arteries, and this process is called atherosclerosis. As the arteries clog, less and less blood is delivered to the heart, causing a lack of oxygen which is termed ischemia. This is most often responsible for some symptoms such as angina, or even heart attacks and strokes.
Symptoms of Coronary Heart Disease
Unfortunately, coronary heart disease goes undiagnosed more often than it should. s thought to begin with damage or injury to the inner layer of a coronary artery, sometimes as early as childhood. The damage may be caused by various factors, including:
If coronary arteries narrow, they don’t supply enough blood to the heart. This causes issues when the heart is working hard because it becomes deoxygenated, like your calf muscles when exercising and they begin to cramp. This causes a variety of symptoms such as
- Angina, or chest pain, occurs when the amount of oxygen reaching the heart diminishes. This condition is commonly described as a squeezing, compressing pain in the middle of the chest. This usually happens in times of great emotional or physical stress, and if left unchecked too long, can degenerate into unsteady angina, which is a precursor to a heart attack.
- Shortness of breath, if your body cannot supply enough blood, you will most likely end up feeling fatigued and short of breath.
- Heart attack, as a completely blocked coronary artery can cause a full on heart attack. If you think you are having a heart attack, you should call 911. Heart attacks are commonly characterized by crushing pain in the chest, difficulty formulating sentences, shortness of breath, etc.
What causes Coronary Heart Disease (CAD)?
Although the underlying causes of CAD differ on a case-to-case basis, there seems to be a correlation between these factors and developing CAD.
- Age. Growing older naturally involves growing more susceptible to health complications.
- A Genetic Predisposition to heart disease can be determined by looking at family history. If there is history of heart disease in your parents or grandparents, you may be at risk aswell.
- Smoking and/or Tobacco use decreases the amount of good cholesterol in your body, which increases the amount of bad cholesterol circulating in your blood stream. This actively leads to plaque buildup within the arteries.
- Having high blood pressure also puts you at risk for coronary heart disease. The prolonged strain on the arterial walls causes injury and plaque build up.
- High blood cholesterol levels means the propensity for plaque to build up within your arteries is quite high. It is also unhealthy in general
- Individuals with type 2 Diabetes seem to have a lot of the same risk factors involved with coronary heart disease.
- Unhealthy diets usually consist of foods higher in bad cholesterol. For example, fried and greasy foods are usually high in trans fats, which contain high cholesterol content when ingested.
- Obesity is evident across the board. An individual with obesity can develop high blood pressure, cholesterol, and type 2 Diabetes. Thus, it is important to exercise regularly and make healthy choices.
Sometimes coronary artery disease develops without any classic risk factors, such as the case where an individual suffered an injury to his arteries at a young age. But, it is more common to see an individual with several risk factors that have gone unmanaged for a long time.
Complications with Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary artery disease, when left unchecked, is often a cause of the following conditions:
- Angina, or chest pain, happens when the heart’s muscle tissues do not get enough oxygen. This can lead to a squeezing sensation in the chest in stressful situations. If left untreated, this can degenerate into unsteady angina.
- Heart attack occurs when an artery supplying blood becomes completely clogged and can no longer do so. The sensation is absolutely unbearable, and if left unchecked can and will lead to cardiac arrest or permanent heart damage.
- Heart failure, or Congestive Heart Failure, refers to a condition in which the efficiency and strength of the heart is compromised. This would cause the heart to struggle in effectively moving blood across the cardiovascular system.
Treatments of Coronary Heart Disease
The same approach that is taken to treating Coronary Heart Disease can also help prevent it. This approach generally consists of making healthy choices, but taking an aspirin daily may be recommended by your doctor.
- Cessation of tobacco use/smoking
- Regular exercise
- A healthy diet consisting of good cholesterol
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Monitor blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and take appropriate steps to ensure they are within healthy ranges
If CAD has progressed sufficiently, your doctor may consider a surgical approach in dealing with the problem. This could consist of using a balloon to widen the afflicted arteries and stenting them, or a complete bypass. Thus, it is imperative that you take the proper, proactive approach in dealing with this disease.