Coronary artery disease (CAD)

What is it?

CAD occurs when the blood vessels – the coronary arteries – that bring oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle become narrowed and/or blocked by fatty deposits called plaques.

This narrowing or blockage can cause the heart to not receive enough oxygen. Under these conditions, an injury to the heart muscle can occur. This is what is commonly known as a heart attack or myocardial infarction.

Symptoms of a heart attack.

  • Chest pain (angina pectoris).
  • Pain or discomfort in arms, shoulders, upper back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Extreme fatigue or weakness, especially with exertion.

If you think you are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Risk factors.

Diagnosing CAD

  • Complete medical history and physical examination
  • EKG
  • Blood tests
  • Stress test 
  • Imaging such as a chest x-ray or a CT scan
  • Cardiac catheterization.

Treating CAD.

  • Lower your risk by not smoking, eating a healthy diet, and being active.
  • Medications.
    • Antiplatelets to prevent clotting.
    • Anticoagulants also known as blood thinners.
    • Antihyperlipidemics to help lower cholesterol levels.
    • Antihypertensives to help lower blood pressure.
  • Catheter-based interventional procedures (PCI).
  • Surgical procedures such as CABG.