Coronary Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the nation. That calls for fighting it together. We hope you'll pick Spectrum Health to be on your team. Our heart and vascular specialists are among the best. From preventive care all the way to heart transplant, we've got your backand your heart.

Heart disease, or coronary artery disease, occurs when fatty deposits accumulate on the inside walls of coronary arteries. This leads to narrowing of the arteries and can decrease, or even block, blood flow to the heart, which results in a heart attack. About 15 million U.S. adults have heart disease. High cholesterol, smoking and high blood pressure all increase the risk of developing heart disease.

Treatments for Coronary Heart Disease

If you have discovered that you have heart disease, you want the reassurance that you're getting the best care possible. Our state-of-the-art diagnostics, the proven experience of our doctors and specialists and advanced treatments all come together to ensure you're in good hands.

Get started today with building a healthy heart by meeting with our cardiologists to get the right diagnosis so you can move on to the right lifestyle changes and treatments for you and your heart.

Bypass Surgery
This surgery creates a bypass graft using a healthy blood vessel from another part of the body or a synthetic tube to reroute blood flow.

Chronic Total Occlusion Program (CTO)
The Spectrum Health CTO clinic utilizes the latest diagnostic techniques in the care of patients and families with Chronic Total Occlusion.

Medication Management
Along with very important lifestyle changes, there are a variety of medicines used to help treat heart conditions. Medicines for heart disease are used to ease discomfort or lessen symptoms, but some can also be essential in preventing life-threatening episodes. It is important to take your medicines exactly as prescribed, and work with your doctor on both lifestyle and medicine changes.

Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (Angioplasty/Stent Placement)
An angioplasty is a less invasive procedure that opens a clogged artery with a small balloon. This can be done through the wrist (radial) or the groin (femoral) artery. Typically this procedure includes the placement of stents.

What Is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)?

The heart pumps oxygen-rich blood through the extensive network of arteries throughout the body. The blood carries oxygen and other nutrients, needed by organs in the body. In coronary artery disease (CAD), or coronary heart disease, fatty deposits build up on inner layers of coronary arteries. These blood vessels are on the outside of the heart and take blood to the heart muscle itself. These fatty deposits, or plaque, may form in teenage years and continue to thicken and enlarge throughout life. This thickening, called atherosclerosis, narrows the arteries and can reduce or block blood flow to the heart.

More than 12 million Americans have CAD, the number one killer of both men and women in the country.

What Are the Risk Factors for CAD?

Risk factors include high cholesterol levels in blood, high blood pressure (hypertension), inactivity, smoking, obesity, diabetes, and a family history of CAD.

What Are the Symptoms of CAD?

If too little oxygenated blood reaches the heart, chest pain called angina occurs. Angina is generally described as tightness or heaviness in the chest but symptoms vary from person to person. A complete block of the blood supply can cause a heart attack, with damage to the heart muscle. Symptoms of CAD depend on how severe the disease is. Some people with CAD have no symptoms, some have mild chest discomfort, and some have more severe angina. Other symptoms include feelings of heaviness, tightness, and pressure in the chest; pain in the arms, shoulders, jaw, neck, or back; shortness of breath; and nausea.

How Is CAD Diagnosed?

The health care provider will take a complete medical history and do a physical examination and blood tests. Other tests include an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), which records the heart’s electrical activity, and a stress test (also called treadmill or exercise ECG). The health care provider may also order nuclear scanning, which uses a radioactive dye to show healthy and damaged parts of the heart. Coronary angiography (takes x-ray pictures of arteries by inserting a flexible tube called a catheter from a blood vessel in the groin area and guiding it into the heart) may be done if the stress test or nuclear scanning reveals a possible blocked coronary artery

How Is Coronary Artery Disease Treated?

Controlling risk factors is crucial for preventing and treating CAD. Lifestyle changes include eating a low-fat diet and losing weight (if overweight), following a good exercise program, quitting smoking, controlling blood sugar (glucose) if diabetic, and reducing blood pressure.

Drugs are often prescribed to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and increase coronary blood flow. More severe CAD may need coronary angioplasty, a procedure to widen arteries, which may include using a stent (special device to keep the artery open). In some cases the health care provider may advise coronary artery bypass surgery, in which blood vessels from another part of the body (e.g., legs) are used to create a new route around blocked arteries.

DOs and DON’Ts in Managing Coronary Artery Disease:
  • DO eat a healthy diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, and lowfat dairy products with less saturated and total fats.
  • DO take your prescribed medicines.
  • DO lower your dietary sodium (salt) intake to no more than 2400 mg per day.
  • DO regular aerobic physical exercise, such as brisk walking (at least 30 minutes per day, most days of the week) only after consulting with your physician to determine what level of activity is appropriate for you.
  • DO keep to a normal body weight.
  • DON’T smoke or use tobacco products.
  • DON’T over exert yourself, and avoid extreme cold and stress.

Contact the following sources:

  • American Heart Association
    Tel: (800) 242-8721
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
  • American College of Cardiology

Copyright © 2016 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc.

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