Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in the U.S. It refers to a type of heart disease that develops when the arteries cannot deliver enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart. Symptoms vary among people depending on the type of CHD. Some people don’t have any symptoms and aren’t aware that they have CHD until they experience chest pain, a heart attack, or sudden cardiac arrest.
Causes of Coronary Heart Disease
CHD is caused by damage or injury to the inner layer of the coronary artery. Arterial damage is caused by numerous factors, including:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Diabetes or insulin resistance
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Family history of CHD
- Poor diet
In addition to the well-known risk factors, research shows that there are other conditions that are associated with CHD, including sleep apnea, autoimmune disorders, and preeclampsia.
Symptoms of Coronary Heart Disease
As the coronary arteries narrow, they can’t supply enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This worsens as the heart beats faster, such as during exercise. The decreased blood flow may not cause symptoms at first.
As plaque continues to build up within the arteries, symptoms may include shortness of breath, chest pain, heart attack. If left unmanaged, CHD can lead to life-threatening complications, such as an irregular heart rhythm and heart failure.
Preventing Coronary Heart Disease
Maintaining good lifestyle habits is the best way to prevent CHD. It’s never too late to start. Adopting a healthier lifestyle later in life or once the disease has begun will still improve the health of your heart. Here are the best tips to keep your heart healthy:
- Manage high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes
- Quit smoking/heavy alcoholic drinking
- Reduce stress
- Regular exercise
- Healthy diet with a focus on whole food nutrition (fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes)
Treatment for Coronary Heart Disease
Treating CHD begins with lifestyle changes, such as those outlined above. If lifestyle changes alone are not sufficient to maintain a patient’s health, medication and certain procedures may be necessary.
Medications include cholesterol-modifying drugs, aspirin, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors and ARBs, ranolazine, and nitroglycerin. Your doctor will be able to discuss how these medications work to determine which one is best for you.
Angioplasty and Stent Placement
In severe cases, a medical procedure may be necessary to restore blood flow to the heart. This may be an angioplasty, where a catheter is inserted into the narrowed artery. Various techniques are used to open up the narrowed artery, such as a balloon and stent. The balloon is used to widen the artery and the stent is placed inside to keep the artery open. Most stents slowly release medication to help keep the artery open.
Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery
This procedure is considered open-heart surgery and is reserved for very severe cases of CHD where there are multiple narrowed arteries restricting blood flow to the heart. A surgeon creates a graft to bypass blocked arteries using material from another part of your body. This allows blood flow to continue around the blocked arteries.
Contact Advanced Heart and Vein Center
Our team at Advanced Heart and Vein Center is dedicated to providing you with the highest quality of care. Together, we can develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific health needs. Request an appointment online or call us today at (720) 772-8040.