The coronary arteries are the large blood vessels that deliver blood to your heart. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is characterized by the hardening and narrowing of these blood vessels, which inhibits blood flow and deprives the heart of much-needed blood and oxygen. Although CAD can develop very gradually, complications from CAD may develop abruptly and require a trip to the ER. Keep reading to learn about the causes and symptoms of CAD and under which circumstances you should go to the ER.
CAD tends to develop when damage is inflicted on the coronary arteries, which encourages the accumulation of plaques—or fatty deposits—on the damaged areas. Damage can be caused by hypertension, high cholesterol levels, smoking, and diabetes. It may also be the result of radiation therapy directed at the chest area. Some other risk factors that may increase your risk of CAD include obesity, physical inactivity, chronic stress, and a family history of CAD.
Initially, you may not notice any symptoms. As the plaques continue to accumulate in your blood vessels, you may experience shortness of breath, particularly during exercise. You may also feel chest pain, or angina, which typically resolves within a few minutes.
Heart failure may develop if your heart muscle is deprived of oxygen and nutrients for a long period of time. It’s also possible to be diagnosed with abnormal heart beats as a result of CAD. If a plaque ruptures and a blood clot forms in the artery, the blockage of the artery can cause a heart attack.
If you suffer a heart attack from CAD, the ER doctors can perform percutaneous coronary intervention procedures to restore blood flow to your heart. Additionally, there are a range of medications your doctor might prescribe to treat CAD, such as beta blockers or nitroglycerin. Healthy lifestyle changes are recommended, such as getting regular exercise and avoiding tobacco use.
Learn whether you could be at risk of coronary artery disease by scheduling a check-up today at Palms West Hospital. Should you suffer a heart attack or other medical emergency, our ER doctors are ready to restore your health with emergency percutaneous coronary intervention. Call us at (561) 798-3300 to schedule your appointment and learn more about our cardiac department.