Prepared by Dr Ang Chin Yong
Consultant Interventional Cardiologist
Gleneagles Medini Hospital
What is coronary artery disease?
The coronary arteries run along the outside of the heart and supply blood to the heart muscle to allow it to function as a pump. Coronary artery disease (CAD) occurs when there are fatty plaques within the arterial wall, resulting in narrowing and reduced blood flow. It is a chronic ailment that develops over years. Hence, early diagnosis is crucial to stop its progression, and avoid heart attack and heart failure.
What are the risk factors for coronary artery disease?
Risk factors for CAD often include:
- High cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides)
- High blood pressure
- Physical inactivity
- High saturated fat diet
Controlling risk factors is the key to preventing illness and death from CAD.
What are the symptoms of coronary artery disease?
The symptoms of coronary heart disease will depend on the severity of the disease. Some people with mild CAD have no symptoms. Symptoms are present when narrowing is severe, which may include: chest heaviness, tightness or pain (which may radiate to the arms, jaw, neck, and/or back), shortness of breath, weakness and fatigue.
How is coronary artery disease diagnosed?
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for coronary artery disease may include any, or a combination of the following:
- Stress test (exercise ECG). An ECG test that is given while a patient walks on a treadmill to monitor the heart during exercise to help detecting CAD.
Coronary angiogram showed severe blockage (A) and restoration of blood flow after angioplasty (B)
Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. It is an open heart surgery to create new blood supply by grafting a piece of artery or vein above and below the blocked area of a coronary artery, enabling blood to flow around the obstruction. Vessel are usually taken from the leg veins, as well as arteries from the chest or arm.