Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is the narrowing or blockage of one or more arteries that supply blood to the heart. This blood supplies the heart with oxygen and nutrients, so stopping or slowing down its flow will lead to damage of the heart muscle.
Last Updated: February 23, 2024

The most common cause for the narrowing of the coronary arteries is a buildup of fat, cholesterol, and scar tissue in the walls of the arteries. This is called atherosclerosis. There are several factors which can increase the risk for atherosclerosis, which include: • Family history of the disease • High levels of cholesterol in the blood • Smoking • Diabetes • Obesity • High blood pressure • High-fat diet • Lack of exercise Other factors which increase the risk for CAD itself include emotional stress and drinking too much alcohol.

Weak or blocked flow of blood to heart can present with: • Chest pain/discomfort that may involve the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back (usually left side) and tends to get worse with physical activity • Shortness of breath • Palpitations (rapid or strong heartbeat) • Irregular heartbeat • Dizziness or fainting

When coronary artery disease is highly suspected, there are various tests which may be done to help diagnose it. This includes an electrocardiogram (ECG), an exercise stress test, and most importantly, a coronary angiography (which is done to look at the coronary arteries themselves). Once diagnosed, it is important to provide treatment to help slow down or stop the build-up of the atherosclerosis. The approach to managing CAD involves: a. Lifestyle modification • Have a healthy diet - limit fatty food and meat intake and eat more fruits and vegetables • Limit alcohol intake • Exercise regularly • Maintain a healthy weight • Avoid cigarette smoking b. Medical treatment • Medications used for lowering cholesterol levels, as well as those used to control blood pressure and diabetes • Medications used to relieve symptoms such as chest pain More invasive interventions, such as the use of stents or even surgery, may also be considered.

Lifestyle change is the single most effective way to prevent heart diseases like CAD: • Eat a healthy/balanced diet such as high fiber, low cholesterol, and low fat food • Exercise regularly (at least 20 minutes. 2-3 times a week) • Manage other diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes • Quit cigarette smoking and limit alcohol intake • Find ways to avoid or cope with stress • Regularly follow-up with health care provider
Last Updated: February 23, 2024