Hearth Health Month

Coronary Artery Disease (coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease) is when plaque, made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances in the blood, build up inside the coronary arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart. The plaque can build up and reduce or block blood flow through the artery.


  • Experience chest pains, shortness of breath or fatigue
  • A change in temporary chest pains should be taken severely and brought to the attention of a physician.
  • Experience pain in the middle of the chest that can spread to the back, neck, jaw or arms.
  • May have gas-like pain or pressure in the stomach area that can be mistaken for indigestion.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Lightheartedness or dizziness.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Feeling restless, sweaty, anxiety or sense of impending doom.
  • Blueness of the lips, hands or feet.
  • Heavy pounding of the heart or abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Disorientation resembling a stroke may occur.


  • Physical Exam: Your doctor may use a stethoscope to check your arteries for a whooshing sounds called bruit which can indicate poor blood flow. Your doctor may check to see if any of your pulses are weak or absent, which can be a sign of a blocked artery.
  • Diagnostic Tests: Your healthcare provider may recommend tests to diagnose atherosclerosis. These tests can help define the extent of your disease and the best treatment plan.
  • Blood Tests check the levels of certain fats, cholesterol, sugar, and proteins in your blood.
  • Ankle/Brachial Index compares the blood pressure in your ankle with the blood pressure in your arm to see how well your blood is flowing.
    ¥ EKG (Electrocardiogram) detects and records the heart’s electrical activity. It shows how fast the heart is beating and its rhythm (steady or irregular).
  • Echocardiography uses sound waves to create a moving picture of your heart. This test provides information about the size and shape of your heart, how well your heart chambers and valves are working, and areas of poor blood flow.
  • Computed Tomography Scan creates computer-generated pictures and can show hardening and narrowing of large arteries.
  • Stress Test: You are to exercise or are given medications to make your heart work hard and beat fast while the heart tests are done.
  • Angiography: This uses dye and special X-rays to reveal the insides of your arteries. It can show whether plaque is blocking your arteries and how severe the blockage is.


  • Follow a Healthy Diet. This can prevent or reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol to help you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise Regularly. Regular physical activity can lower many risk factors, including bad cholesterol, high blood pressure, and excess weight, diabetes and raise your good cholesterol, which helps prevent atherosclerosis. T
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight. Maintaining a healthy weight can lower your risk of atherosclerosis. A general goal is a body mass index (BMI) of less than 25.
  • Quit Smoking. Smoking can damage and tighten blood vessels, raising the risk of atherosclerosis.
  • Manage Stress. Research shows that the most commonly reported “trigger” for a heart attack is an emotionally upsetting event—particularly one involving anger.
  • Medicine: To slow the buildup of plaque, your health professional may prescribe medicines to help lower your cholesterol level or blood pressure or to prevent blood clots from forming.
  • Angioplasty is a procedure to open blocked or narrowed coronary (heart) arteries. It can improve blood flow, relieve chest pain, and possibly prevent a heart attack.
  • Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG):CABG can improve blood flow to your heart, relieve chest pain, and possibly prevent heart attack.
  • Carotid endarterectomy, or carotid artery surgery: Removes plaque buildup from the carotid arteries in the neck. This procedure opens the arteries and improves blood flow to the brain, helping prevent a stroke.

For more information visit NIH Medline Plus or The Heart Foundation