Coronary artery disease is also known as atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. The condition leads to blockages in the arteries because of plaque build-up. The arteries become narrow and rigid, restricting blood flow that carries vital oxygen and nutrients to the heart. As plaque deposits grow, you become at greater risk for blood clots and heart attack.
Coronary artery disease is a slow, progressive condition that can begin early in life and go undetected for years. Fortunately, the disease can be treated and even reversed if detected soon enough.
Your physician will discuss your symptoms, medical history and risk factors, and perform a physical exam.
Diagnostic tests may be ordered to help identify the best type of treatment for you. Specific tests may include:
- An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
- An exercise stress test
- Cardiac catheterization
Lifestyle modification & treatment
Your physician may recommend these and other improvements to your lifestyle habits to reduce your risk for developing heart disease:
- Smoking cessation; if you smoke, quit.
- Avoid high-cholesterol foods and adopt a low-fat, low-salt diet.
- Monitor your blood sugar if you have diabetes.
- Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight. Talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program.
Treatments may include:
- Surgery and other procedures, such as balloon angioplasty, placement of a stent or coronary artery bypass surgery.