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Coronary artery disease

What is Coronary artery disease?

Coronary artery disease is one of the most common heart diseases in the world. It refers to the narrowing or obstruction of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. The narrowing of the arteries occurs due to the build-up of fatty deposits in the wall of the arteries. These fatty deposits, called plaque, accumulate over the years and can eventually block blood flow to the heart. Coronary artery disease can lead to chest pain and shortness of breath (angina) during exertion or stress, as well as heart attack and heart failure.

There are many complications associated with coronary artery disease including:

  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure

Symptoms

Coronary Artery Disease can manifest in different symptoms and severity:

  • Chest pain, known as angina, during exertion and stress
  • Cold sweaty hands
  • Heart Attack
  • Nausea
  • Palpitation
  • Shortness of breath
  • You may not experience any symptoms, even though there is restricted blood flow to your heart (this is known as silent ischaemia)

Treatment

Your doctor will evaluate your condition and discuss with you a range of treatment options suitable for you. These may include a combination of:

–  Lifestyle changes to improve the health of your heart:

  • Control your blood pressure, blood cholesterol and diabetes with regular exercise and weight control
  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Quit smoking

–  Medications to dissolve blood clots, regulate heart rate, and prevent other heart disease complications

–  Surgery may be recommended by your doctor in severe cases of coronary artery disease in order to improve the coronary blood flow:

  • Coronary artery bypass surgery: Open heart surgery, during which coronary blood supply is restored by creating a route for the blood to go around the blocked part of the coronary artery.
  • Percutaneous coronary intervention (also known as coronary angioplasty): A small balloon is inserted into the blocked artery to help re-open the blocked artery and allow blood to flow again. A stent (a tiny expandable metal coil) may be used to help keep the artery open.

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