Health Info

Heart disease refers to various types of conditions that can affects the heart functions. These include:

  • Coronary artery (atherosclerotic) heart disease that affects the arteries to the heart
  • Congenital heart disease (abnormal structure or function, like atrial / ventricular septal defect and aortic stenosis)
  • Cardiomyopathy that affects how the heart muscle contracts
  • Heart rhythm disturbances (arrhythmias) that affects the electrical conduction

Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease.

Coronary arteries supply blood to the heart muscle. The coronary artery disease occurs when there is a buildup of cholesterol plaque inside the artery walls. Over time, this buildup of plaque may partially block the artery and decrease blood flow through it.

A heart attack occurs when a plaque ruptures and forms a clot in the artery causing a complete blockage. This part of the heart muscle that is denied of blood supply starts to die. This may lead to a sudden cardiac arrest.

These may include:

  • Chest pain (angina), this pain may radiate or move to the arm, neck or back.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Irregular heartbeat

Not all people with coronary artery disease have chest pain as a symptom. Some may have signs and symptoms of indigestion, or exercise intolerance where they cannot perform activities that they normally once could.

These are risk factors that increase the potential to develop plaque within coronary arteries and cause them to become narrowed. Atherosclerosis is the term that describes this condition.

Factors that increasing the risk of heart disease are:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia)
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of heart problems (especially heart attacks and strokes)
  • Obesity
  • Stressful lifestyle
  • Lack of exercise

Since cardiovascular disease, peripheral artery disease, and stroke share the same risk factors, a patient who is diagnosed with one of the three has increased risk of having or developing the others.

Coronary heart disease is initially diagnosed by patient’s history and physical examination. Physical examination may suggest the presence of narrowed arteries, may include:

But cardiac catherterization is the gold standard for coronary artery diagnosis.

Treatment for coronary heart disease depends upon its severity. Many times lifestyle changes such as eating a heart healthy diet, exercising regularly, stopping smoking and controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes may limit the arteries narrowing.

In some people, surgery (coronary artery bypass surgery) or other procedures (cardiac catheterization) might be needed.

  • Aspirin
    Used for its antiplatelet activity, making platelets less sticky and decreasing the risk of heart attack
  • Beta-blockers
    Help to slow the heart rate, decrease the oxygen requirements of the working heart muscle
  • Calcium Antagonists
    Help the contraction of the heart muscle contract and pump more efficiently
  • Nitrates
    Help dilate arteries and increase blood flow to the heart muscle. A short-acting agent to treat acute angina symptoms or long-acting preparations may be prescribed for prevention
  • Diuretics
    Treat heart failure by making your body excrete more fluids as urine
  • ACEI
    Help dilating blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. This lowered blood pressure makes it easier for the heart to pump blood and can improve the function of a failing heart.
  • Statins
    Lower the cholesterol, reduce the chance of atherosclerosis or heart attack.