Coronary Artery Disease: From Prevention to Treatment

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Coronary artery disease (CAD) refers to an increase in fatty plaque inside the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. This build-up, known as atherosclerosis, narrows the arteries and restricts blood flow, leading to chest pain, shortness of breath, and even heart attacks in severe cases.

From Prevention to Treatment Navigating Coronary Artery Disease
From Prevention to Treatment Navigating Coronary Artery Disease

Even though there is no cure for CAD, it can be treated through medication and surgery to help improve your symptoms and prevent complications from occurring.

What is Coronary Artery Disease?

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the build-up of plaque in your coronary arteries. Plaque comprises fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. Over a period of time, the plaque begins to harden and narrow your arteries.

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This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle, leading to chest pain (angina) or a heart attack. CAD is a common type of heart disease. It’s also the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States.

Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary Artery Disease

The other common names of coronary artery disease are ischemic heart disease and heart disease.

What happens to the arteries in coronary artery disease?

Over a period of time, plaque can build up in the coronary arteries. This process is called atherosclerosis. Plaque comprises fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. As plaque builds up, it narrows the coronary arteries and reduces blood flow to the heart muscle. It will lead to chest pain (angina), shortness of breath, heart attack, or even death.

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Coronary Artery Disease Risk Factors

Many factors determine the development of coronary artery disease. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle. Having one or more of these risk factors doesn’t mean you will develop coronary artery disease, but it does increase your chances.

How can you prevent CAD?

There are a lot of things you can do to prevent CAD. The first is to control your cholesterol levels. You can do this by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. If you are a smoker, quitting smoking is also very important.

Other risk factors for CAD include diabetes, high blood pressure, and family history. You must ask your doctor to provide ways to prevent CAD.

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How does plaque build up in the arteries?

Plaque is a sticky substance consisting of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances in the blood. When plaque builds up in the arteries, it’s called atherosclerosis.

The build-up of plaque narrows the arteries and makes it harder for blood to flow through. This can lead to coronary heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.

How To Reduce Plaque in Arteries?

Plaque comprises fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. When plaque builds up in the arteries, it narrows them and reduces blood flow to the heart. This leads to coronary artery disease (CAD). There are a few important things you can do to reduce plaque in your arteries:

  1. Eat a healthy diet. This means eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats.
  2. Exercise regularly. This helps improve blood flow and lowers cholesterol levels.
  3. Quit smoking. Smoking damages the lining of your arteries and increases your risk of developing CAD.
  4. Control your blood sugar levels in case you have been diagnosed with diabetes. High blood sugar can damage your arteries over time.

Coronary Artery Disease Symptoms

The following are the common coronary artery disease symptoms and also the symptoms of clogged arteries:-

  • Pain in the chest which may come and go sometimes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Not able to do physical activity comfortably
  • Tiredness or Fatigueness

Which Tests Are Important To Diagnose Coronary Artery Disease?

The following are the few main tests used for diagnosing CAD heart disease.

1. Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)

This quick and painless procedure will measure your heart’s electrical activity. Your doctor can see how fast or slow it is beating using this machine, which will also display any irregularities if there was a heart attack in the past or a possible chance of having one in the near future.

2. Exercise stress test

Suppose you notice that your signs and symptoms appear most often when exercising. In that case, your medical professional will likely ask you to either walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike while undergoing an electrocardiogram (ECG).

If you cannot engage in physical activity, drugs that stimulate the effects of exercise will be prescribed instead.

3. Heart (cardiac) CT scan

A heart CT scan can reveal calcified deposits or blockages in the heart artery. Calcified deposits could obstruct or narrow these vessels.

4. Nuclear stress test

A nuclear stress test is almost similar to an exercise stress test but also has pictures added to the ECG recordings. A nuclear stress test gives insight into how blood flows through a patient’s heart when they are under conditions of both rest and exertion.

For this, a radioactive tracer will be administered IV before imaging takes place, making it easier for them to see where the problem areas are located.

What Are The Best Ways of Coronary Artery Disease Treatment?

Three ways suggested for Coronary artery disease treatment include a change in lifestyle, medications, and surgery. Let’s look at the treatment options below:-

Lifestyle Changes

1. Quit smoking

If you smoke or use tobacco products, please stop because it is terrible for your health. Visit a doctor today for advice on quitting and ask about programs and medication available to help with quitting.

2. Opt for a healthy diet

To protect your heart health, ensure you eat a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Please speak to your physician or a registered dietician for tips on changing what you eat so that it is low in these elements.

3. Increase your daily activity levels!

Everyone deserves to feel good about themselves, so work towards that goal by taking care of yourself. Losing weight, improving your physical health, and relieving stress are just some of the many benefits of exercising.

You may also lower your risk for heart attacks if you get at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week or 10,000 steps daily. Talk to your doctor before starting any workout routine.


Medical professionals recommend drugs that best manage your heart disease risk factors. You may receive:

  1. Cholesterol-lowering medication, such as statins, bile acid sequestrants, niacin, and fibrates;
  2. Blood pressure lowering medication, such as beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors
  3. Angina treatment medication, such as nitrates/nitroglycerin or ranolazine;
  4. Blood clot prevention medication—such as anticoagulants (aspirin included), and antiplatelets.

Procedures and surgery

1. Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery

Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery is necessary when there is a blockage in the heart’s coronary arteries. In most cases, the surgeon will take blood vessels from your chest, arm, or leg and connect them to make a new pathway for oxygen-rich blood to enter your heart.

2. Enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP)

In this procedure, inflating cuffs are used to compress blood vessels in the lower limbs. This technique enhances blood flow throughout the heart and creates natural pathways around blocked coronary arteries.

Enhanced external counterpulsation could be a possible solution for those who suffer from chronic stable angina – providing them with relief without going through invasive procedures or having surgery that may not work due to the patient’s condition; or without taking pharmaceuticals that they may no longer need.

What are the warning signs of clogged arteries?

Arterial plaque build-up can be very dangerous to your heart health and overall well-being, so it’s essential to identify the warning signs of clogged arteries as early as possible.

What are the warning signs of clogged arteries
What are the warning signs of clogged arteries?

If you are experiencing any of these four warning signs, visit your doctor immediately so you can be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

1. Chest pain

If you feel pain in your chest, it could be a warning sign that your arteries are clogged. The pain may feel like pressure or a squeezing sensation in your chest. It may also radiate to your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back.

This type of pain is often referred to as angina. While it’s not always indicative of a heart attack, it’s important to see a doctor if you experience any type of chest pain so that they can rule out any severe underlying conditions.

2. Fatigue

Feeling tired can always be a sign that your arteries are clogged. When your arteries are blocked, your heart has to work harder to pump blood through them. This can lead to fatigue because your heart cannot pump as much blood as it usually would.

3. Weakness and Dizziness

One of the most common warning signs of clogged arteries is weakness and dizziness. This can be caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain, leading to weakness and dizziness. If you experience the symptoms mentioned here, then contact a doctor as soon as possible.

4. Shortness of breath while doing something routine

Do you find yourself winded after taking a short walk or going up a flight of stairs? This could be one of the earliest warning signs that your arteries are clogged.

When plaque build-up narrows the arteries, it limits the amount of oxygen-rich blood that reaches your heart and other organs. This leads to shortness of breath, especially during physical activity.

If this happens to you, don’t ignore it! Schedule an appointment with your doctor to get checked out.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Coronary Artery Disease

Q. What are the 5 causes of coronary artery disease?

Ans. 1. Family history of heart diseases
2. Chainsmoking
3. Over Consumption of alcohol
4. Diabetes
5. High Cholesterol

Q. What is the most common cause of coronary artery disease?

Ans. The common cause of coronary artery disease is smoking or intake of tobacco products regularly and avoiding physical activity.

Q. How long can you live with coronary artery disease?

Ans. Coronary Artery Disease is a treatable disease without a cure. Once you’re diagnosed with Coronary Artery Disease, you must adjust and live with it for the rest of your life. 

You can learn to lower your risks and let go of any worries by treating CAD and living your life to the fullest free of stress.

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Maja Zayeri
Maja Zayeri
Maja Zayeri, a prolific author and heart health expert, seamlessly blends her passion for writing with her extensive knowledge of cardiovascular wellness. He is committed to providing her patients with the highest quality of care and is passionate about educating people on the importance of heart health.

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