Coronary Artery Disease
What is it?
In some people, the coronary arteries become narrowed, usually by a process called atherosclerosis in which cholesterol and other substances are deposited in the arterial wall. With progressive narrowing, the blood supply to the heart muscle gradually decreases, and eventually becomes insufficient to supply the needs of the heart muscles. This usually results in chest pain or angina pectoris during exertion or stress, but may also manifest as breathlessness, irregular heart rhythm or fatigue. When a blood vessel suddenly obstructs completely, a full-blown heart attack occurs.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is one of the most common diseases and is a major killer in Singapore.
How is it Diagnosed?
Your doctor will diagnose CAD based on
Your medical and family histories
Your risk factors
Results of a physical exam and tests
No single test can diagnose CAD. Your doctor will advise you to do one or more of the following tests to confirm it.
You are made to exercise to make your heart work hard and beat faster
If you cannot exercise, medicine is given to speed up your heart rate
There will be a need for more blood and oxygen as the heart works harder. If the arteries are narrowed by plaque, there would not be sufficient supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart.
Heart tests will then be performed to see how the increased heart activity affects your heart rate/blood pressure, whether you develop shortness of breath or chest pain, or if there are abnormal changes in your heart rhythm or electrical activity.
If you cannot exercise for as long as you should be able to at your age, it may be a sign that you have CAD.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptom is chest pain (also known as angina). Most will describe it as experiencing chest discomfort, heaviness, tightness, squeezing, pressure, aching, burning, numbness or fullness. Some could mistake it for heartburn or indigestion. Although it is usually felt in the chest, it may also be felt in the left shoulder, arms, neck, back or jaw.
What is the treatment?
There are various treatments for coronary artery disease (CAD).
- Lifestyle changes
- follow a healthy eating plan to prevent or reduce high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol
- Increase your exercise regime.
- If you are overweight or obese, you should try to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight- If you smoke, you should quit smoking
- Reduce stress and learn to cope with it
- if life style changes are not enough, medication will be needed to treat CAD
- medicines can decrease the workload on your heart, decrease your chance of a heart attack, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, prevent blood clots etc.
- Medical Procedures
- Coronary Angioplasty
- Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery
- Cardiac Rehabilitation