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IAC

Coronary artery disease

  • Definition: 
    • Coronary artery disease develops when your coronary arteries (the major blood vessels that supply your heart with blood, oxygen and nutrients) become damaged or diseased.  Cholesterol-containing deposits (plaques) on your arteries are usually to blame for coronary artery disease.  When plaques build up, they narrow your coronary arteries, causing your heart to receive less blood. Eventually, diminished blood flow may cause chest pain (angina), shortness of breath or other coronary artery disease symptoms. A complete blockage can cause a heart attack. Because coronary artery disease often develops over decades, it can go virtually unnoticed until it produces a heart attack. But there's plenty you can do to prevent and treat coronary artery disease. Start by committing to a healthy lifestyle.
  • Prevention:
    • Not smoking
    • Controlling conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes
    • Staying physically active
    • Eating healthy foods
    • Maintaining a healthy weight
    • Reducing and managing stress
  • Treatment:
    • Cholesterol-modifying medications. By decreasing the amount of cholesterol in the blood, especially low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol, these drugs decrease the primary material that deposits on the coronary arteries. Boosting your high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or "good") cholesterol, may help, too. Your doctor can choose from a range of medications, including statins, niacin, fibrates and bile acid sequestrants.
    • Aspirin. Your doctor may recommend taking a daily aspirin or other blood thinner. This can reduce the tendency of your blood to clot, which may help prevent obstruction of your coronary arteries. If you've had a heart attack, aspirin can help prevent future attacks. There are some cases where aspirin isn't appropriate, such as if you have a bleeding disorder of you're already taking another blood thinner, so ask your doctor before starting to take aspirin.
    • Beta blockers. These drugs slow your heart rate and decrease your blood pressure, which decreases your heart's demand for oxygen.
    • Nitroglycerin. Nitroglycerin tablets, sprays and patches can control chest pain by opening up your coronary arteries and reducing your heart's demand for blood.
    • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). These similar drugs decrease blood pressure and may help prevent progression of coronary artery disease. If you've had a heart attack, ACE inhibitors reduce the risk of future attacks.
    • Calcium channel blockers. These medications relax the muscles that surround your coronary arteries and cause the vessels to open, increasing blood flow to your heart. They also control high blood pressure.
    • Angioplasty and stent placement (percutaneous coronary revascularization). In this procedure, your doctor inserts a long, thin tube (catheter) into the narrowed part of your artery. A wire with a deflated balloon is passed through the catheter to the narrowed area. The balloon is then inflated, compressing the deposits against your artery walls. A stent is often left in the artery to help keep the artery open. Some stents slowly release medication to help keep the artery open.
    • Coronary artery bypass surgery. A surgeon creates a graft to bypass blocked coronary arteries using a vessel from another part of your body. This allows blood to flow around the blocked or narrowed coronary artery. Because this requires open-heart surgery, it's most often reserved for cases of multiple narrowed coronary arteries.

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Leonard J.Scuderi, M.D., F.A.C.C.
Cardiologist and Cardiovascular Disease Specialist
CardioFit Medical Group, Inc.
23456 Hawthorne Blvd, Suite 250
Torrance, CA   90505
Phone 310-791-5577
Fax 310-791-
5575