Coronary heart disease is a condition in which your coronary arteries can’t supply your heart with adequate blood, nutrients, and oxygen. The most common cause of coronary heart disease is cholesterol deposition in your coronaries and plaque formation. These plaques may cause a complete or partial blockage of the arteries. Your body will try destroying these plaques by sending white blood cells to engulf them, which causes more inflammation and narrowing and finally damage to your coronaries.
You are at risk of coronary heart disease if you are more than 45 years old (if male) or 55 (if female), or you have a positive family history of coronary heart disease. Also, your unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as smoking, unhealthy food, abnormal sleep, and stress, may make you at a higher risk of coronary heart disease. Irregular sleep and anxiety are also risk factors.
Hypertension, Diabetes Mellitus, and high LDL cholesterol also increase the risk. Coronary heart disease is more common in males in the obstructive type, while the non-obstructive is more common in females.
Coronary heart disease takes time to develop, So the symptoms differ from one person to another. If you have asymptomatic coronary heart disease, you will know only when you have a heart attack. Chest pain is the most common presenting symptom. This pain may occur in the arms, shoulders, back, or epigastric area. You will feel like compressing or squeezing pain during the attack. The doctors call this attack angina, which may be stable or unstable.
Unstable angina may develop myocardial infarction, which is a fatal condition. So, your doctor should be able to differentiate between angina and myocardial infarction. In addition to chest pain, you may have shortness of breath, cold sweat, nausea, weakness, fatigue, and dizziness. If you don’t have early treatment, you may develop cardiogenic shock, heart failure, arrhythmia, or sudden death. The symptoms in women are a little different; they may come at first with fatigue, sleep disturbance, and shortness of breath. So, the women are difficult to diagnose with coronary heart disease.
Your doctor depends on some factors to diagnose you. At first, he will ask you about your family and medical history. Then, he will ask if you have any symptoms or risk factors of coronary heart disease. Your doctor will ask you to do some diagnostic tests like blood tests, ECG, stress tests, echocardiogram. Also, your doctor may ask for cardiac MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and coronary CT (computed tomographic angiography).
During treatment, your doctor will make a healthy lifestyle plan that replaces your unhealthy lifestyle habits with healthy ones, such as stopping smoking, healthy food, enough sleep, stress relief, and physical activity. Your doctor will use some medications to control the risk factors and causes. These medications are efficient in managing coronary heart disease. If the medical treatment fails to manage your condition, your doctor may need some surgical procedures.
These procedures are like percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) and coronary artery bypass grafting. These procedures are helpful for the treatment of severe cases that do not respond to medical treatment. You can avoid or decrease the risk of coronary heart disease by having healthy lifestyle habits and early screening.
Now, let’s see this disease in more detail and answer the following questions:
- What are the coronary arteries?
- What is the pathophysiology of plaque formation?
- What causes this disease, and who is at risk of it?
- What are its symptoms, signs, and complications?
- How will your doctor diagnose and confirm if you have this disease?
- How can your doctor manage this disease, and what are the treatment options?
- Can you prevent coronary heart disease, and how can you do this?
- How can you live with coronary heart disease?