Coronary Artery Disease is a condition in which the major blood vessels that supply blood to the heart are damaged or become narrow due to the build-up of plaque. Conditions like high cholesterol or increased clotting called thrombosis cause narrowing of arteries, which means there is a reduced flow of blood, which impairs the function of the heart.
- Chest pain– also known as angina, you may feel a sharp pain in your chest.
- Difficulty in breathing – this is caused due to decrease in blood supply to your heart. It can lead to extreme fatigue after any small activity.
- Heart attack or myocardial infarction – this is a complication of the disease caused due to the complete blockage of the coronary artery. You may experience an extreme pain in your chest, shoulder and arm with shortness of breath and sweating.
Did you know that in case of women, heart attack presents itself a little differently, it is observed as nausea, shortness of breath, tiredness and is less identifiable than in males, which is dangerous.
They are divided into non-modifiable risk factors, which are the ones you don’t have control over and modifiable risk factors, that can be controlled with certain modification in lifestyle.
NON MODIFIABLE RISK FACTORS
- AGE – The process of plaque build-up in your arteries takes years and the incidence increases as you grow older, it is high in occurrence between 50 to 60 years of age.
- SEX – More common in men than women.
- FAMILY HISTORY- A person with a family history of heart disease is associated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease.
MODIFIABLE RISK FACTORS
- Smoking-a major risk factor, the nicotine and carbon monoxide are responsible for changes in your body that favor atherosclerosis or plaque formation. The earlier the age of starting and the higher the number of cigarettes, the greater the risk, which reduces after stopping.
- High Blood Pressure– Having high blood pressure increases the pace or speed at which the plaque forms.
- High Cholesterol- specifically LDL or low-density lipoproteins which transfers cholesterol from the liver to tissue, on the other hand, High-density lipoproteins or HDL decreases the risk of atherosclerosis as it transports cholesterol from the tissue to the liver.
- Diabetes- Patients suffering from diabetes mellitus or high blood sugar have 2-3 times higher risk of developing CAD.
- Obesity- Factors like diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol that accompanies obesity can cause CAD.
- Hormones-estrogen is a hormone found in women which increases the risk of developing CAD. Consumption of oral contraceptives containing estrogen is a risk factor.
- Type A Personality- People with high-stress levels, short temper, nervousness, irritability, etc are at a higher risk.
- Noise-long term exposure to high noise levels causes an increase in cholesterol.
- Medicines- medicines that are used to lose weight can be harmful for heart health and can lead to CAD.
While nothing much can be done in cases where there is a family history of heart diseases, a change in the lifestyle can delay the onset of the disease. For those who do not carry the disease in their genes, it is easy to avoid by making certain lifestyle changes such as:
- DIETARY CHANGES-
- Saturated fat consumption should be less than 10% of the total dietary intake
- Cholesterol intake should be less than 200 mg/dl
- Avoid excess consumption of alcohol.
- Blood Pressure- steps should be taken to keep the blood pressure under control.
- Physical activities- Regular physical exercise helps to maintain a proper weight,control diabetes, and cholesterol levels which are major risk factors for CAD.
- Women with other risk factors of developing CAD or with a strong family history should not take oral contraceptives containing estrogen and should mention this history without fail to the gynecologist.
Consult A Doctor
Consult to a doctor if you are suffering from High Blood Pressure or are a Diabetic patient. Frequent health check-up after the age of 35 years is recommended to everybody.
Still, have questions? Drop a comment and our cardiology expert will get back to you with an answer.