Did you know that there are several cardiovascular diseases ? They are diseases that affect heart health and often, when left untreated, can lead to death, as is the case with coronary artery disease. This is a problem characterized by damage or obstruction of blood vessels and can affect people of any age, especially the elderly.
In more severe cases it can cause a heart attack and, therefore, you need to be aware of the signs. What many people do not know is that, with the necessary care, it is possible to prevent and even reverse the disease. With that in mind, we created this post to explain a little more about the disease, its symptoms and treatments. Check out!
What is coronary artery disease?
Coronary artery disease is a type of cardiovascular disease characterized by the obstruction of blood vessels, which are responsible for the transport of blood, nutrients and oxygen to the cardiac blood. They can also be known as coronary arteries.
This problem usually happens because of accumulations of fat on the walls of the veins or because of inflammation. When the block is complete it can cause a heart attack. The disease develops over several years and may not be noticed until something more serious happens, like a heart attack.
What are the symptoms?
As mentioned above, the disease does not always show symptoms , which often makes it difficult to identify. But when the arteries start to narrow, the body shows some signs. Over time, the more the problem gets worse, the greater the chances of experiencing any discomfort such as:
- chest pain – also known as angina, is characterized by a feeling of tightness or pressure in the chest. This discomfort usually occurs in the middle or left side of the chest and is usually triggered by physical or emotional stress;
- shortness of breath – when the heart cannot pump enough blood to supply the body’s needs, the person experiences shortness of breath or extreme fatigue;
- heart attack – as we mentioned above, heart attack happens in extreme cases of the disease. The signs that you are having a heart attack are shortness of breath, strong pressure in your chest, pain in your arm or shoulder and sweating.
Chest pains can be transient or last for a certain period of time. In women it can be felt very strongly and also affects the neck, arm and back.
What are the main causes?
Coronary artery disease begins with damage or damage to blood vessels, which can be caused by many reasons. When the inner wall is damaged, the fat plates begin to accumulate in place, causing obstructions.
If these plaques break, platelets may try to repair the problem, but if they accumulate, they can cause complete artery blockage and, consequently, infarction.
Among the main causes of these injuries are:
- high cholesterol;
- high blood pressure;
- sedentary lifestyle;
- diabetes or insulin resistance.
There are also some risk factors that people need to be aware of:
- sex (usually male);
- family history;
- high blood cholesterol levels;
- hypertension ;
- obesity or overweight;
- diabetes ;
High blood cholesterol and family history are the two risk factors that most need attention. The risk factors can come separately or one can trigger the other. If you have more than two, the chances of developing the disease are greater.
How is the diagnosis made?
The diagnosis is made through consultation with the cardiologist , in which the patient will report his symptoms and family history and the doctor will order tests to prove the disease. The analyzes used are electrocardiogram, physical exercise test, coronary angiography and computed tomography of the heart.
Examinations also help to define the stage at which the disease is. In the early stages there is an accumulation of fat on the walls of the arteries, but it is not enough to cause complications and can be easily reversed. In more advanced cases, it can be completely obstructed, causing a heart attack at any time.
What is the treatment?
Treatment for coronary artery disease is developed individually and will depend on the stage of the disease and analysis of the patient’s exams. It is usually made from a combination of medications and lifestyle changes. For that, the indicated is the practice of physical activities, healthy eating , avoiding fats and fried foods, quitting smoking, losing weight and reducing stress.
In the case of drugs, medications to control cholesterol, dipyrone, nitroglycerin, beta blockers, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors may be prescribed. In more severe patients, surgery to restore blood vessels may be recommended , which may be Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, Coronary Angioplasty or Aorto-coronary Bridge.
How to prevent?
In any disease, prevention is always the best treatment, in the case of coronary artery disease it is no different. Because it is a disease that usually develops from bad habits, an improvement in lifestyle can be essential to prevent it, such as:
- practice physical exercises;
- quit smoking;
- maintain a balanced diet, low in fat and salt, rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, nutrients and vitamins;
- reduce stress ;
- keep the weight healthy.
Visiting a cardiologist regularly is another way to prevent coronary artery disease. It is he who will order tests and analyze your family history, so the disease can be discovered earlier, reducing the chances of possible complications.
As you followed, coronary artery disease is serious, but with the right monitoring, treatment and care it can be reversed or prevented. Maintaining healthy habits is essential for the prevention of various diseases and can save lives. If you notice one or more of the symptoms described above, seek medical attention immediately.