Coronary artery disease hardens and narrows the coronary arteries, reducing blood flow to the heart muscle. This is caused by the buildup of cholesterol and plaque (cholesterol, calcium and other substances). The coronary arteries supply blood and nourishment to the heart muscle. When these blood vessels are diseased, the heart muscle does not get the blood and oxygen it needs. Angina, heart attack, heart failure, (cardiomyopathy) and/or arrhythmia may result.
Diagnostic steps may include:
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)
- Chest x-ray
- Stress test
- Electron-beam computed tomography (EBTC)
- Cardiac catheterization
- Coronary angiogram
Treatment options may include:
- Lifestyle changes
LDL apheresis treatment, a blood filtration process similar to kidney dialysis that can be used to treat individuals for whom diet and maximum drug therapy is ineffective or poorly tolerated.
- Coronary artery bypass graft surgery, sometimes called CABG (cabbage) reroutes blood or bypasses clogged arteries to improve blood flow and oxygen to the heart. Medications can be used with diet and exercise to help lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure.
Angioplasty, a medical procedure using a special balloon to open a blocked coronary artery. It may be used to improve angina and shortness of breath and reduce heart damage. Tightly folded balloons are inserted into the narrowed area and inflated to open the artery. Not all coronary blockage can be treated with angioplasty. Surgery may be required.
- A stent--a cylindrical, wire mesh tube--is placed in the narrowed artery with a catheter.