What Do You Know About Coronary Artery Disease?

general cardiovascular diseases Flemington, NJ

We’ve all heard the term “coronary artery disease,” but do we really understand what that means?

If not, we need to. Every year about 610,000 people in the U.S. die of heart disease, about one out of every four deaths! Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

At Hunterdon Cardiovascular Associates, it’s our mission to provide comprehensive care that helps to improve the cardiovascular health of our community.
CAt Hunterdon Cardiovascular Associates, it’s our mission to provide comprehensive care that helps to improve the cardiovascular health of our community.

What is coronary artery disease?

Coronary artery disease develops when the major blood vessels that supply the heart with blood, oxygen, and nutrients become damaged or diseased. The usual culprits are cholesterol-containing deposits (plaque) in the arteries. As the arteries fill with plaque, they become narrower, restricting blood flow to the heart. This is now coronary artery disease.  

What are the symptoms of coronary artery disease?

In most people, plaque builds in the arteries over decades, and often there aren’t many signs that this is happening. As the plaque continues to build up, however, these are symptoms that may develop:

  • Chest pain (angina) — Exercise or emotional stress can trigger angina. There is pressure or tightness in the chest, as if someone is standing on your chest. Once the stressful activity stops, the pain will usually go away.
  • Shortness of breath — When your heart can’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s need, you’ll likely have shortness of breath or extreme fatigue with exertion.
  • Heart attack — When a blockage is complete, this will cause a heart attack. The classic signs and symptoms of a heart attack include crushing pressure in your chest and pain in your shoulder or arm, sometimes accompanied by shortness of breath and sweating. Women sometimes have less typical signs of heart attacks, such as neck or jaw pain.

What causes coronary artery disease?

If you have too many cholesterol particles in your blood, cholesterol may accumulate on your artery walls. Eventually, deposits called plaques may form. These deposits narrow or eventually block your arteries.

It’s thought that for fatty deposits to begin to accumulate on the artery walls there has to be some damage to the inner layer of a coronary artery. This can happen sometimes as early as childhood. Damage may also be caused by these factors:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes or insulin resistance
  • Sedentary lifestyle

At Hunterdon Cardiovascular Associates we offer rapid intervention after a cardiac event. We also offer extensive diagnostic services to find problems before they lead to that event. Call us to set up an appointment, (908) 788-1710.

Posted in: Coronary Artery Disease

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