Coronary Artery Disease and Heart Attack

Millions of Americans have plaque in their arteries — a condition called atherosclerosis. When plaque builds up in the arteries of the heart, the result is coronary artery disease, in which reduced blood flow to the heart eventually weakens the heart muscle. Fortunately, with the appropriate care, coronary artery disease can be treated, and heart attacks and other complications can be prevented.

Plaque buildup or clots can reduce blood flow to the heart muscle.

Some people with coronary artery disease experience no symptoms or only mild ones, making this condition difficult to diagnose without the proper tools. Individuals who do notice symptoms may experience one or more of the following.

Angina is a pain in the chest that may feel like tightness, burning, or squeezing. This sensation may also radiate to other parts of the body. Angina is a sign that the heart muscle is not receiving adequate blood flow, usually due to a blockage in one or more of the coronary arteries.

If you experience chest pain that lasts longer than five minutes, seek medical care immediately. You may be having a heart attack.

Coronary artery disease may also cause pain in the jaw, upper back, or neck, or discomfort in the left arm or shoulder.

Women with coronary artery disease may experience other symptoms, such as nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, or sudden fatigue. People with diabetes may also have these less typical symptoms.

The coronary arteries are the main pathway for blood flow to your heart muscle. When plaque builds up in these arteries and makes them narrower, the condition is called coronary artery disease.

The heart muscle will lose the ability to function if it is deprived of blood flow for an extended period of time. That’s why, if left untreated, coronary artery disease can lead to a heart attack (myocardial infarction).

A wide range of factors has been associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease. Age and gender play a role in the likelihood of developing this condition. Other risk factors include hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, sleep apnea, inflammatory conditions, chronic infections, genetics and family history, poor nutrition, sedentary lifestyle, poor stress management, and tobacco use.

Coronary artery disease is a serious condition that requires medical attention. But thanks to recent advancements in both diagnostics and treatments, even if you have coronary artery disease, you can avoid ever having a heart attack.

If you have one or more risk factors for this condition or if you notice any unusual symptoms, make an appointment with Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates to determine whether you have coronary artery disease.

Depending on the severity and stability of the case, people with coronary artery disease may benefit from various treatments. Medications are often used to stabilize the plaque and protect the heart. Occasionally, procedures such as coronary stenting or bypass surgery are necessary. In almost all cases of coronary artery disease, we encourage and support good nutrition, fitness, and behavioral changes as part of the treatment plan.

At Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates, we strongly believe that proper treatment can manage coronary artery disease, making complications extremely unlikely.