Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease (CAD) refers to disease affecting the arteries of the heart. This usually entails the build-up of fat and calcium in the arterial wall (known as atherolsclerosis) which results in a narrowing of the vessel lumen. This can lead to reduced blood flow to the heart which is experienced as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath and a decrease in exercise/exertion tolerance. It can also lead to a heart attack if left untreated.
CAD can be treated with lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, exercising regularly and eating a more healthy diet. Medications such as statins, ACE inhibitors, and beta blockers can also be used to reduce the risk of CAD.
In some cases, a stent (percutaneous coronary intervention or also called PCI) is required to improve the blood flow and in more severe cases open heart surgery might be required (Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting or also called CABG).
It should be noted that as atherosclerosis often affects arteries supplying other parts of the body (such as the brain and kidneys), treatment of CAD can also protect against stroke and kidney failure.
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