February is American Heart Month. Did you know that it is the leading cause of death of women in the United States?
Coronary heart disease is when the innermost layer of the coronary arteries becomes inflamed and narrowed. This is caused by a buildup of fatty deposits called plaque and is called atherosclerosis. These deposits may start in childhood and continue to thicken and enlarge throughout the lifespan. This thickening is called atherosclerosis. It can cut or block blood flow to the heart.
The symptoms of coronary heart disease will depend on the severity of the disease. Some people have no symptoms. Others have episodes of mild chest pain (angina) when they are active. Some people have more severe chest pain even at rest. The symptoms of coronary heart disease may look like other health problems.
Some symptoms of coronary heart disease are:
- Heaviness, tightness, pressure, burning, or pain in the chest behind the breastbone
- Pain spreading to the arms, shoulders, jaw, neck, or back
- Shortness of breath
- Weakness and severe tiredness (fatigue) especially during periods of activity
- Chest pain that eases with rest
- Chest pain that happens even at rest
Fainting (syncope) may be a symptom of a heart attack in elderly adults.
You can help prevent coronary heart disease by controlling your risk factors, such as:
- Not smoking
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a heart-healthy diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Keeping your cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure in a healthy range
Read more about coronary heart disease here.
Find out more about how the Cardio and Vascular departments at Olmsted Medical Center diagnose and treat many heart and vascular conditions here.
Key points about coronary heart disease
- Coronary heart disease is when the innermost layer of the coronary arteries become inflamed and narrowed from a buildup of plaque, or fatty deposits.
- The main cause is atherosclerosis. It can reduce or block the flow of blood to the heart.
- Unhealthy lifestyle habits raise the risk for this disease. These include smoking and not being physically active.
- High blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol can also raise the risk for it.
- Coronary heart disease runs in families.
- Symptoms include chest pain and shortness of breath.
- Treatment includes medicines that lower blood pressure, control diabetes, and lower cholesterol. Procedures may also be done to open the coronary arteries, letting blood flow to the heart.