Coronary Heart Disease

What Is Coronary Heart Disease?

Coronary heart disease, often called coronary artery disease, occurs when the buildup of plaque in your arteries causes the arteries to narrow. This can reduce the flow of blood to your heart and lead to serious health problems such as a heart attack

What Are the Symptoms of Coronary Heart Disease?

Typically, there are no symptoms of coronary heart disease itself, but it can lead to angina, which is a type of chest pain. Angina can present itself with symptoms such as:

  • A pressure or tight feeling in the chest
  • A burning or aching sensation
  • Heaviness in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness or fatigue

Women often will experience more subtle symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue, or nausea and sweating.

These symptoms do not always lead to coronary heart disease. If you or a loved one experiences any of these symptoms, contact your doctor right away as it may be a sign of a serious medical condition.

What Causes Coronary Heart Disease?

Coronary heart disease is caused by a hardened buildup of fatty deposits of plaque in the arteries – this is called atherosclerosis. When atherosclerosis is present, blockages in the arteries can occur which may lead to a heart attack.

What Are the Risk Factors for Coronary Heart Disease?

Most of the risk factors for coronary heart disease are linked to lifestyle and are controllable. These risk factors can include:

Other non-lifestyle related risk factors include:

  • Family history
  • For men, being over age 45
  • For women, being post-menopausal

If you have questions about how these risk factors can increase your risk of coronary heart disease, the experts at Banner Health are here to help. 

How Is Coronary Heart Disease Diagnosed?

After a physical exam, several different diagnostic tests may be used to determine whether or not you have coronary heart disease. These tests may include:

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
  • Stress tests
  • CT scans
  • Cardiac catheterization

Your doctor will determine the best type of test to use based on your symptoms and other health factors.

What Is the Treatment for Coronary Heart Disease?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for coronary heart disease. Treatment typically involves making lifestyle changes such as eating well and being active. Additionally, your doctor may recommend medication such as beta-blockers or nitroglycerin or in the case of more advanced coronary heart disease, surgery to open or replace a blocked artery.

Banner Health offers a variety of treatment options and our specialists will make recommendations based on your individual needs with the goal of helping you live a long, heart-healthy life. Learn more about the way we approach treatments for heart disease.

How Do I Prevent Coronary Heart Disease?

Adopting a healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent coronary heart disease. This includes:

  • Managing high blood pressure
  • Managing your cholesterol levels
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Not smoking or doing drugs
  • Being physically active
  • Eating a heart-healthy diet

If you’ve already been diagnosed with coronary heart disease and need help incorporating lifestyle changes into your routine, Banner Health is here for you. We offer rehabilitation resources to all of our patients and will support you every step of the way.