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Coronary Artery Disease or Atherosclerosis

Cholesterol

Coronary Artery Disease or Atherosclerosis is caused by cholesterol build up (plaque) in the arteries which supply blood to the heart. The condition is the leading cause of heart attacks due to reducing blood flow to the heart muscle.

The disease develops over the course of years, and it is usually caused by eating fatty or fried foods, smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, kidney disease, and high blood pressure; however, some patients are genetically predisposed. The more risk factors a person has, the more likely they are to have blockages.

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Symptoms

  • Initially the blockages are asymptomatic until they significantly reduce blood flow to the heart.
  • The most common symptom is chest pain/pressure/discomfort (“angina”).
  • In some (diabetics, women and elderly patients most commonly), CAD can be asymptomatic.

Diagnostic Tests

Treatment

  • Blood pressure medications (example - metoprolol, lisinopril)
  • Cholesterol medications (example - statins [atorvastatin])
  • Anti-anginal medications (example - nitroglycerin)
  • Aspirin and clopidogrel (Plavix) or ticagrelor (Brilinta)
  • Occasionally Stents
  • Occasionally Bypass surgery
  • Coronary Angioplasty Animation

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