Did you know that a heart attack is often the first sign of disease? Heart disease is largely silent, in that most people with coronary artery disease feel fine. Symptoms may not emerge until a major cardiac event occurs. If your coronary arteries are severely blocked, however, you may experience telltale warning signs that you shouldn’t ignore.
At CA Heart and Vein Specialists, cardiovascular physician Majed Chane, MD, and our skilled clinical team want you to know the signs of coronary artery disease so you take steps to protect your heart.
What is coronary artery disease?
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and it isn’t just a man’s disease. Men and women are equally at risk of developing heart disease. Each year, heart disease causes almost 650,000 deaths in the US, and more than 800,000 Americans suffer a heart attack annually.
Your coronary arteries are two special blood vessels that carry blood to all parts of the heart muscle. These two major pipelines are critical to your heart, and coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common form of heart disease.
CAD occurs when the coronary arteries become damaged, narrowed, or otherwise diseased. The result is less blood flow to the heart. Because CAD can take decades to develop, you may not have symptoms until you have a significant blockage of a coronary artery. Any of the following five warning signs warrants medical evaluation.
The most classic symptom of coronary artery disease is chest pain or discomfort. You may experience chest pressure or tightness, or you may feel a squeezing sensation. This type of chest pain tends to worsen with physical activity as it places extra demand on your heart to supply blood to working muscles.
Shortness of breath
Because reduced blood flow lowers oxygen, people with CAD commonly experience shortness of breath, which you may notice even with little physical effort. It’s not normal to become short of breath walking up one flight of stairs, for example. Shortness of breath should alert you that something is amiss, and it’s wise to see a cardiovascular specialist.
Fatigue during exertion
If you have coronary artery disease, you may experience sudden fatigue during or after exercise that leaves you suddenly feeling wiped out. You may even struggle during typical day-to-day physical activities such as playing with your children or grandchildren. Unusual fatigue during physical activity warrants investigation.
When your heart isn’t receiving enough blood, it can’t pump oxygenated blood to your tissues. Without enough oxygenated blood, it’s common to feel lightheaded. Again, this is more likely to occur during physical activity but can occur with little physical exertion.
CAD can cause a rapid, pounding or irregular heartbeat. Some people describe the feeling as if their heart is fluttering, skipping a beat, or beating with excessive force. This is called arrhythmia, and it can cause your heart to suddenly stop beating.
While these are common signs of coronary artery disease, it’s important to remember that not everyone with CAD experiences symptoms. It’s critical to have regular heart health checks, especially if you have a family history of heart disease or have other risk factors, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Elevated cholesterol
- Lack of exercise
- Unhealthy diet
Coronary artery disease treatment
The professionals at CA Heart and Vein specialists take an individualized, multifaceted approach to treating coronary artery disease. Depending on your circumstances, your treatment may involve lifestyle changes and plaque-fighting medication.
If you have a significant blockage, Dr, Chane may recommend a procedure such as balloon angioplasty to open the blocked artery and restore proper blood flow.
CA Heart and Vein Specialists delivers the highest quality of care to patients with heart disease. Dr. Chane possesses vast experience providing acute, preventive, and follow-up care. Your heart health is our top priority.
To discuss CAD evaluation and treatment or any other cardiovascular needs — either in person or via telemedicine — call 657-206-8491 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Chane. You can also request a booking online.