Heart & Circulatory Health Data Verified

Coronary Artery Disease - a Common Fatal Heart Problem

Written by
Dr. Sagar Ramesh Makode
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Jan 28, 2017 and last reviewed on Aug 28, 2021   -  4 min read


Coronary artery disease is a common fatal condition. This article includes the symptoms, tests, and treatment of coronary artery disease.

Coronary Artery Disease - a Common Fatal Heart Problem


Coronary artery disease is characterized by blockages in the arteries, which supply blood to the heart. This, in turn, will cause nutrition and oxygen deprivation of the heart, which leads to pain and damage to the heart muscle. Heart dysfunction leads to symptoms of a heart attack.

When to Suspect Coronary Artery Disease?

There are two presentations of coronary artery disease. They are stable diseases and heart attacks. In stable diseases, the patients usually complain of chest pain which are retrosternal in origin, and occurs on activities. This kind of pain radiates to the left arm, back and jaw. Many people may also have a heart attack at the first presentation. Heart attack pain may be of similar nature but with severe intensity and is associated with sweating, shortness of breath, syncope, or death. That is why it is so important to know how to spot a heart attack.

What Are the Causes of Coronary Artery Disease?

A plaque-like substance makes the inner walls of the blood vessels sticky. Inflammatory cells, calcium, and lipoproteins attach to the plaque when they travel through the bloodstream. Also, these materials build along with cholesterol, making the artery walls narrower.

After a narrowed coronary artery is developed, new blood vessels go around the blockage to bring blood to the heart muscle. But when the person feels stressed out, the new arteries may not bring enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart.

The plaque breaks in some cases, and in such cases, a blood clot develops and blocks the supply to the heart muscle. This results in a heart attack. When the blood vessel that carries blood to the brain is blocked, it results in ischemic stroke.

What Are the Symptoms of Heart Attack?

The symptoms of a heart attack include the following:

When the above-mentioned symptoms persist for more than 10 minutes or if they recur, then call for help right away.

What Are the Risk Factors for Coronary Artery Disease?

There are quite a lot of things that can make one prone to coronary artery disease. Of which, few can be altered while few cannot be. They include the following:

What Tests Are Used to Confirm Coronary Artery Disease?

1) Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG):

Detects abnormal electrical changes in your heart.

2) Stress Test:

If your resting ECG is normal, then the physician may give a bit of stress to your heart like asking the patient to run or give medicine, which will increase the heartbeat, and under these stressful conditions heart may show abnormal electrical activity and heart disease can be diagnosed.

3) Echocardiogram:

This test, with the help of sound waves, creates an image of a beating heart and gives information regarding the function of the heart. Functioning of the heart is mentioned in the term called ejection fraction, and the normal value is more than 55%.

4) Cardiac Catheterization or Angiography:

During this test, the doctor inserts a thin pipe into a blood vessel in the leg groin area or the arm near the wrist. This tube is inserted into the heart, and then the medicine called dye is injected, with the help of which heart blood vessels are visualized. The exact site, number, and percentage of blockages can be known from this test. This is the final and the best test for detecting blocks. However, this is expensive and has a risk of bleeding and other complications.

How to Treat Coronary Heart Disease?

The various options available are lifestyle modifications and medications. If blockages are critical, then the patient may need a procedure to open the blocks, which can either be a stent or bypass surgery.

1) Lifestyle Modifications:

The person should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and low-fat products. Avoid meat, oily food and quit smoking. Do regular exercise and lose weight if overweight.

2) Medications:

Medicines are the most important part of the treatment. This should be consumed as advised and without default. Medicines called statins, which lower cholesterol should be consumed even if cholesterol is normal. Blood pressure-lowering medicines and blood thinners like Aspirin and Clopidogrel are very important. Other medicines like beta-blockers and nitrates help patients with chest pain.

3) Stent Procedure:

A stent procedure is also called angioplasty. The doctor will put a thin pipe in the blocked artery during this procedure and dilate it with a balloon. Also, it keeps the stent in the vessel to hold the artery in the open state. It is very important that patients do not default the medicines after stenting. Otherwise, the risk of stent blockages is very high.

4) Bypass Surgery:

Coronary artery bypass grafting or CABG is the other name of bypass surgery. During bypass surgery, the doctor uses another vessel, which may be from the chest or sometimes legs. Doctors connect this vessel above and below the blockage and bypass the blockage. This vessel is called a graft. Depending upon the number of grafts, the patient is labeled as a double or triple bypass. The bypass surgery is a lengthy and high-risk procedure. It is usually done in individuals having blockages in three or more vessels or blockages in the main artery.


Last reviewed at:
28 Aug 2021  -  4 min read




Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Related Questions & Answers

Heart Attack Explained

Article Overview: This article describes heart attack in simple language, which can be easily understood by common people. Read Article

Our heart works as a pump. As the water pump pulls water from back pipes and pushes it to forward pipes, our living pump functions. It receives blood from the body and pumps it forward to the body. Blood contains oxygen and nutrients that our body metabolizes to generate the energy required for the...  Read Article

Is there any BP medicine without side effect?

Query: Hi doctor, I am a cardiac patient since 16 years after a massive MI followed by an angioplasty. Thereafter, I was taking medication to control high BP along with Aspirin as well as for cholesterol. Recently, I have another mild attack and did my second angioplasty. My BP is fluctuating between 150/9...  Read Full »

My father had pain below the heart which was on the rib side. What is the cause?

Query: Hi doctor, My father had mild chest pain. The doctor did an angiogram, and they told there is a block in the blood pumping vessel and it is closed. We planned for placing a stent. The next day, the doctor tested again and told the blood vessel is opened and it is normal. So, the stent was not place...  Read Full »

Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Heart Attack or Coronary Artery Disease?

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.