Approaches To Treating Coronary Artery Disease

By: Brad Getty

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most prevalent form of heart disease. It occurs when plaque accumulates along the inside of the arterial wall. Normally, your arteries provide oxygen-filled blood to your heart. When plaque builds, the passageway becomes constricted which limits the flow of blood. If your heart does not receive enough oxygen-rich blood, it can become damaged and lead to a myocardial infarction.
There are a number of strategies that physicians will use to treat CAD. It is important to realize that not all of them suitable for every patient. We'll describe a few methods of treatment below.
Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG)
CABG is a procedure in which the surgeon will connect unblocked arteries or veins to the plaque-filled artery. This is done in order to completely bypass the arterial blockage. In effect, the graft allows necessary oxygen to reach the heart by going around the blockage.
Not everyone who suffers from CAD is suitable for CABG. The fact is, despite it being a very common procedure, it is still considered major invasive surgery. If coronary artery disease can be successfully treated through less-invasive surgical methods or lifestyle modifications, such paths are often recommended over CABG.
Angioplasty is performed by inserting a tiny tube into the blocked arterial passageway. The tube has a balloon on the end of it. Once it is in the proper position, the balloon expands and widens the passage, thereby increasing the flow of oxygen-rich blood. Often, in an attempt to keep the passage open once the balloon has been removed, a stent is used.
Cardiac Rehabilitation
Cardiac rehabilitation is usually beneficial for anyone who suffers from coronary artery disease, especially if CABG or angioplasty has been performed. The goal is to gradually strengthen a patient's heart muscle through exercise, diet, and counseling. As a result, the patient can reduce the likelihood of experiencing serious heart problems in the future.
Lifestyle Matters
Physicians recommend that patients make long-term lifestyle changes as a primary form of treatment for CAD. Because the buildup of plaque which lead to the disorder accumulates over time, special attention is given to activities or choices that lead to that buildup. For example, smoking, stress, and obesity each contribute to the problem. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, ask your doctor to recommend a regular exercise program. Also, adopting a healthy diet can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Coronary artery disease develops gradually. As a result, many people don't realize that the problem exists until they begin to manifest serious physical signs, such as a heart attack. Even if you do not suffer from CAD, consider adopting a healthy diet and regular exercise routine. It could literally improve your quality of life down the road.

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