Coronary Artery Disease
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What is Coronary Artery Disease?
Coronary artery disease, or atherosclerosis, is caused by cholesterol buildup (plaque) in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. The condition is the leading cause of heart attacks from reduced blood flow to the heart muscle.
Coronary artery disease develops over many years. It’s usually caused by risk factors such as eating fatty or fried foods, smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, kidney disease, or high blood pressure. The more risk factors a person has, the more likely they are to have blockages. But some patients are more likely to get the disease because of genetics.
Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease
Up to 30% of people who have coronary artery disease have no symptoms. For those who do, the most common are:
- Pain or pressure in the chest
- Pain in the abdomen, back or arm
- Chest pain during exertion
- Chest pain when emotional or anxious
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue during exertion
Sometimes, the first symptom is a heart attack.
UR Medicine's Treatments for Coronary Artery Disease
- Diagnostic tests. If your doctor suspects coronary artery disease, you will be referred for diagnostic tests. UR Medicine Cardiac Care offers a full range of cardiac testing, including blood tests, electrocardiogram, stress EKG, echocardiogram, and myocardial perfusion imaging.
- Lifestyle changes. Several changes can help prevent or improve coronary artery disease. Our health care providers have recommendations to help you quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, eat healthier, and exercise more.
- Medications. For many people, the treatment of coronary artery disease includes medications that can help reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, thin blood, or slow your heart rate.
- Routine cardiac follow-up visits. This allows your health care provider to assess your cardiac status and symptoms over time.
- Balloon angioplasty and stenting. When a coronary artery is narrowed or blocked, a balloon angioplasty might be required to open it up and allow blood to flow. A thin catheter is inserted through a blood vessel and threaded to the blockage. Once in place, a tiny balloon is inflated, pushing fatty deposits to the sides of the blood vessel and restoring blood flow. Often, a tiny wire mesh called a stent is placed inside the artery to keep it open so blood can continue to flow.
- Bypass. For severe blockages, a coronary artery bypass graft may be required. In this surgery, a blood vessel from another part of your body is used to go around, or bypass, a blocked artery that supplies your heart.
Rusty Lawrence was born with a congenital heart defect. Doctors didn't expect him to live past the age of three. By age 43, Rusty was dying of congestive heart failure. His only hope was a heart transplant.
What Sets Us Apart?
UR Medicine is a referral center for the most complex heart surgeries, which means other hospitals in the Rochester area send their most challenging cases to us. These other hospitals trust us because UR Medicine Cardiac Care leads the region in the number and scope of specialized services.
Our programs for heart failure, heart transplant, and cardio-oncology are unique in our area. These and other specialty programs ensure that you get the very latest treatments for a wide range of conditions.
Our team of experts includes cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, interventional cardiologists and cardiovascular imaging specialists.
We also run the region’s only Women’s Heart Program, because there are differences between women and men when it comes to heart problems—including risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes. We’ve built a team of experts around personalized heart care for women.
And as part of the only academic medical center in the area, we’re involved in studies of the latest treatments. So our patients’ care is informed by the very latest findings.
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