Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is one of the most common forms of heart disease and is the leading cause of death among men and women in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 600,000 Americans per year die of coronary artery disease-related causes. It is a progressive disease, often associated with certain lifestyle factors. Here you can learn about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of this potentially life-threatening condition.
What Are the Symptoms of CAD?
The most common symptoms of CAD are chest pain or discomfort (angina). This can be a squeezing sensation in the chest, or pain that radiates to the neck, jaw or arms. You may also experience shortness of breath, or have fatigue during physical activity.
What Are the Causes of CAD?
Certain lifestyle choices that promote unhealthy artery walls are the primary causes of CAD. These choices include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. Other risk factors can include a sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition, stress, family history of heart disease, and old age.
What Are the Treatments for CAD?
Treatment for CAD is designed to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke by counteracting the effects of lifestyle choices that can increase the risk of CAD. The main treatments include lifestyle changes, medication and/or surgery.
Lifestyle Changes for CAD
The first line of defense against CAD is lifestyle-focused treatments. Making lifestyle changes that reduce your risk of CAD typically includes quitting smoking, increasing physical activity, reducing stress, and eating a healthier diet with more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Medication for CAD
Medication is often prescribed to reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and improve blood glucose control when lifestyle changes have not been enough. These medications can help reduce symptoms and slow the progression of CAD.
Surgery for CAD
Certain cardiac surgeries may be recommended to improve blood flow to the heart in more severe cases of CAD. Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is a procedure that involves rerouting blood around narrowed or blocked arteries. Another common procedure is angioplasty, where a small balloon is threaded through a vessel and inflated in order to open a blocked area.
Health Tips for Prevention of CAD
Living a heart-healthy lifestyle is key for preventing coronary artery disease. These simple lifestyle choices will go a long way in reducing your risk of CAD –
Quit smoking, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, follow a balanced diet, reduce stress, and manage chronic conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol.
Coronary artery disease is a common and potentially life-threatening heart condition. Being aware of the risk factors and implementing healthy lifestyle changes is the best way to prevent CAD and its associated complications. If you have symptoms of CAD, it is important to see a doctor and discuss your treatment options. Together you can create a plan to help you reduce your risk of CAD and improve your overall heart health.