Louisiana Heart & Vascular Institute Vein Care Centers

What you need to know about Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is a common heart condition where plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. Over time, this buildup of plaque narrows the arteries, reducing blood flow to the heart. If left untreated, CAD can lead to chest pain (angina), heart attack, heart failure, or other serious heart-related complications.

How do I know if I have Coronary Artery Disease?

Some common signs and symptoms of CAD include:

1. Chest pain or discomfort (angina): Often described as a squeezing or pressure-like sensation in the chest, which may radiate to the arms, shoulders, back, neck, or jaw.

2. Shortness of breath: Feeling breathless or having difficulty breathing, especially during physical activity or stress.

3. Fatigue: Feeling unusually tired or exhausted, even with minimal exertion.

4. Rapid or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias): Heart palpitations or abnormal heart rhythms may occur.

5. Nausea or lightheadedness: Some people with CAD may experience nausea, dizziness, or fainting.

It’s important to note that not everyone with CAD will experience symptoms, and some individuals may have a silent form of the disease. Regular check-ups and screenings are crucial for early detection and diagnosis, especially for individuals at higher risk due to factors such as age, family history, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, or a sedentary lifestyle.

How do I prevent Coronary Artery Disease?

Preventing CAD involves adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle, including:

1. Healthy Diet: Consume a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products. Limit saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium.

2. Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity, aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week.

3. No Smoking: Avoid smoking and limit exposure to secondhand smoke.

4. Manage Stress: Practice stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.

5. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight through a combination of healthy eating and regular physical activity.

How do I treat Coronary Artery Disease?

The treatment of CAD may involve lifestyle changes, medications, and medical procedures:

1. Lifestyle Changes: Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle as described above is essential for managing CAD.

2. Medications: Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to manage risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.

3. Angioplasty and Stent Placement: In some cases, a procedure called angioplasty may be performed to open narrowed arteries, often followed by the placement of a stent to keep the artery open.

4. Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG): In severe cases, bypass surgery may be recommended to create new pathways for blood to flow around blocked arteries.

Treatment plans will vary depending on the individual’s specific condition and risk factors. It’s important to work closely with a healthcare provider to develop a personalized treatment and prevention plan for Coronary Artery Disease.