Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a condition where plaque builds up inside the heart’s arteries, causing them to narrow or even block entirely. This makes it harder for blood to flow through the body. CAD often begins slowly and without symptoms, but over time it can damage the heart muscle and cause chest pain or other symptoms.
What causes coronary artery disease?
Many things may cause Coronary Artery disease, including:
- Smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products cause atherosclerosis in coronary arteries, which are the arteries that supply blood to your heart.
- High levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides increase the risk of atherosclerosis.
- Diabetes increases the chance of developing CAD.
- Obesity raises risks because it puts extra weight on your heart.
- Being male increases your chances of having cardiovascular problems.
What are the symptoms of coronary artery disease?
CAD usually shows no symptoms during the early stages, but it eventually worsens to the point that the patient experiences angina or heart attack symptoms. These symptoms can occur while activity or while at rest, including:
- Pressure in the chest or chest pain.
- Pain in the arm, neck, or jaw.
- Breathing difficulties.
- Heart palpitations (a racing or irregular heartbeat).
- Loss of consciousness.
How is CAD diagnosed?
To identify coronary artery disease, your doctor will evaluate your blood pressure, cholesterol profile, and blood glucose levels, as well as your medical and family history. This data can be used to predict your 10-year cardiovascular risk or your chances of having a heart attack or stroke. Depending on your symptoms, the following tests may be used to provide additional information:
- Electrocardiogram- ECG measures electrical activity in the heart and checks to see how well the heart pumps and contracts. A normal ECG does not rule out CAD.
- Stress Test- This involves exercise such as walking or jogging on a treadmill while monitoring heartbeat and pulse. The stress test gives your doctor information about how well your heart works during strenuous activities like running or climbing stairs. It also provides data on how much oxygen your heart consumes at rest and how efficiently it uses oxygen. An abnormal stress test could signal the presence of CAD.
- X-rays- These images provide information about calcium buildup around your heart and arteries. ACT scan can show whether your arteries are blocked or narrowed.
- Echocardiography- A particular ultrasound device called echocardiography is used to assess the size, shape, motion, and function of your heart chambers and valves. These tests measure the amount of blood pumped into each chamber of your heart and can detect changes that indicate heart failure. They can also reveal abnormalities in valvular structures (the tissue between your valve leaflets).
- Angiography- An angiogram is a procedure in which dye is injected into your bloodstream to highlight areas of obstruction in your arteries. This procedure helps doctors plan treatments for CAD.
- Cardiac catheterization- During this procedure, the doctor inserts a thin tube into a large vein in your groin. They then thread the tube through the vein up to the top of your lungs, where they open the tubes so that they can see the inside of your heart. The doctor will pictures of the inner surface of the arteries to look for plaques.
The doctor may also take blood, urine, or tissue samples to analyze for certain substances like cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose. These tests can help identify whether your CAD is due to genetics, diet, or lifestyle factors.
How is CAD treated?
Early detection and intervention are critical to increasing the effectiveness of treatment. There are three main options for treating heart disease, depending on your health condition and objectives:
- Lifestyle changes. Some lifestyle changes can be made to address risk factors associated with CAD, including smoking, having high cholesterol levels or high blood glucose levels, not getting enough exercise, adopting bad food habits, and being overweight.
- Medication. Your doctor may prescribe some medications to control atherosclerosis risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, prediabetes, and diabetes. These include Antiplatelets to prevent blood clots, Antihyperlipidemic to lower lipids (fats) in the blood and Antihypertensives to regulate blood pressure.
- Revascularization. Some patients with CAD who do not respond to medical therapy may undergo revascularization procedures to open up new passageways through the diseased vessels.
Revascularization Procedure Types
Several revascularization procedures are available, depending on the location of the blockage. Your cardiologist will discuss all of your treatment options with you before choosing any particular one.
- Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI)– PCI is usually performed using a small tube inserted into a blood vessel in your arm. The doctor injects a tiny balloon into the blocked part of an artery. Using x-ray guidance, he inflates the balloon until it presses against the blockage. Then, he removes the balloon and inserts a stent into the artery to keep it open.
If the balloon wasn’t sufficient to open the clogged artery, the doctor might use additional balloons, lasers, wires, or other tools to open the artery.
- Catheter Ablation – Cardiac ablation involves inserting a specially designed catheter with multiple electrodes attached to an artery. Once inside the body, the cathode emits energy when activated, heating surrounding tissues until they destroy the unwanted parts. For example, heat could be used to burn away the obstructing material if you have a narrow spot in one of your coronary arteries.
After the procedure, the catheter must remain in place for four weeks or longer if needed.
Book your appointment at Novomed today!
When it comes to diagnosing and treating heart diseases, Novomed’s cardiologists are among the best in their field, emphasizing integrative patient care. As a full-service cardiology center, we treat a broad spectrum of cardiac diseases. We are well qualified to provide accurate diagnoses and the most advanced scientific treatments for heart conditions.
If you have any concerns, make an appointment with our experienced Cardiologist in Dubai by calling toll-free 800 (NOVO) 6686 or filling out the booking form below.