What You Should Know About Coronary Artery Disease

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a potentially fatal condition and the top cause of death in the United States.
  • The disease is a result of plaque buildup in the walls of blood vessels that cause blockages to blood flow.
  • Medications and lifestyle modifications can effectively restore blood flow and protect against major complications.

Coronary artery disease (CAD), sometimes called coronary heart disease, is the most common type of heart disease in the United States, and also the country’s leading cause of death.

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CAD is a result of plaque buildup occurring in the walls of the arteries causing them to narrow over time, leading to partially or completely blocking off blood flow. This buildup can trigger inflammation, decrease blood flow to the heart, and induce heart attack symptoms, like weakness, nausea, shortness of breath, and chest pain.

The first sign of CAD for some people is a heart attack. However, there are available treatments to help you stop this from happening. Read on to know and understand more about this disease.

Risk Factors

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All of the things below increase your risks for coronary artery disease. They include:

  • Family history of heart disease, especially having it at ages 50 or younger
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Smoking Tobacco
  • Unhealthy eating
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol

Treatments for CAD


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CAD treatments are focused on preventing plaque buildup, easing inflammation, enhancing blood flow and promoting overall health of the heart and blood vessels.

Your doctor can prescribe medications that prevent blood clots, decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and strengthen blood flow.


This medication can lower your chances of developing blood clots, and also prevent future heart attacks for those who’ve already had one. However, take note that you should not take aspirin if you have a bleeding disorder or you’re taking blood thinning medications.

Cholesterol-modifying medications

These medications such as statins help mitigate inflammation and improve bad cholesterol levels. Lower cholesterol levels can hinder plaque buildup, partially reverse current plaque deposition, and minimize arterial inflammation.


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These medications lower the heart rate, causing the heart to “rest” more, decreasing the heart’s oxygen demand. These medications also help in the treatment of arrhythmias.

Calcium channel blockers

If a beta-blocker isn’t enough to lower blood pressure, you may be prescribed a calcium channel blocker alongside other medications.

Other medications

You may be prescribed other medications such as ranolazine (Ranexa) or nitroglycerin (Rectiv) to relieve chest pains or angina. Medications for reducing blood pressure also include angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers or diuretics.

Lifestyle changes which can slow down the progression of CAD and also improve overall health. These include:

Quitting smoking

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Tobacco smoking narrows blood vessels and damages arteries. It can also ramp up blood pressure and heart attack or stroke risks. Talk to your doctor about medications to help you quit.

Exercising often

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Physical activity for at least 150 minutes each week helps keep a healthy body weight, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. See your doctor first before embarking on a new workout routine.

Healthy Eating

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Reduce CAD symptoms by eating heart-friendly foods that include:

  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • lean proteins
  • fish
  • whole-wheat grains
  • olive oil, nuts, and avocados

Avoid high-sodium foods, junk foods, and fatty foods. Carefully read food labels and use salt alternatives like herbs and salt-free seasonings when preparing meals.

Manage your stress

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Lowering stress levels help maintain a healthy blood pressure. Pace yourself, learn to say no, get quality sleep, and try stress relief techniques such as yoga, exercise, deep breathing, and meditation.


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Surgical procedures such as the following are only suggested in severe CAD cases:

  • Percutaneous coronary intervention may increase blood flow via the artery
  • Coronary artery bypass, an open heart surgery that diverts blood around clogged parts of major arteries to improve blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart.

Source: healthline