Coronary artery disease happens when major blood vessels going to your heart become damaged. This is often caused by plaque buildups in the arteries, creating inflammation and narrowing blood vessels. Typically, the reduced blood flow to the heart will cause chest pain (angina) and shortness of breath, as well as other similar symptoms. In extreme cases, the arteries can become completely blocked and cause a heart attack.
Coronary artery disease develops over years or even decades, so the symptoms will usually build up slowly over time. That is why it is important to understand the symptoms and what you can do to prevent coronary artery disease from developing in the first place.
Plaque building up in your arteries causes the blood vessels to narrow and makes it more difficult to get blood and oxygen to your heart, especially during strenuous activity. As the buildup worsens and your arteries become more stressed and inflamed, coronary artery disease will develop. If you are experiencing angina – characterized by pressure, tightness, or general chest pain typically in the middle or left side of your chest – or shortness of breath and extreme fatigue with physical activity, you may have damage to your arteries that needs immediate attention. Arterial damage can be caused by a number of risk factors including:
Coronary artery disease, if left untreated can lead to a heart attack when the damage to the arteries causes complete blockage of the blood vessel. To learn more about coronary artery disease and find out if you could be at risk, contact our knowledgeable physicians today.
If you suspect you are having a heart attack, seek medical attention immediately.
The experienced physicians at Carolina Cardiology Associates are committed to the health of every patient who walks through our doors. We understand the challenges of cardiovascular disease and will work with you to provide treatment, education, and a plan for the future to help you live your healthiest life.