Coronary Artery Disease

What is it?

Your heart pumps blood to your body, but your heart also requires blood itself in order to function. The blood your heart needs is supplied by your coronary arteries.

Over time, fatty deposits or plaques can build up on the walls of your coronary arteries. This condition is known as coronary artery disease.

The buildup of plaque during coronary artery disease causes these blood vessels to narrow, so less blood gets to your heart. Coronary artery disease can cause the chest pain called angina pectoris and can also lead to a heart attack.

What are the symptoms?

As many as 30% of people with coronary artery disease will experience no symptoms. For those people who do experience symptoms, the following are the most common:

  • Pain or pressure in the chest
  • Pain in the abdomen, back or arm
  • Chest pain during exertion
  • Chest pain when emotional or anxious
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue with exertion

For many people with coronary artery disease, the first symptom is a heart attack.

If you think you may be having a heart attack, call 911.

How is it treated?

Diagnostic tests. If your doctor suspects coronary artery disease, you will first be referred for several tests. URMC Cardiology offers the full range of cardiac testing, including blood tests, electrocardiogram, stress EKG, echocardiogram and myocardial perfusion imaging.

Lifestyle changes. Several lifestyle modifications can help prevent or improve coronary artery disease. Our doctors can provide recommendations to help you quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, eat healthier and exercise more.

Medications. For many people, the treatment of coronary artery disease includes medications that can help to reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, thin blood or slow your heart rate.

Balloon angioplasty and stenting. When a coronary artery is nearly blocked, a balloon angioplasty may be required to open it up and allow blood to flow. A thin catheter is inserted through a blood vessel in your leg. It is then threaded up to the blockage. A tiny balloon is then inflated, pushing fatty deposits to the sides of the blood vessel and restoring blood flow to your heart. Often a tiny wire mesh called a stent is placed inside the artery to keep it open so blood can continue to flow to your heart.

Bypass. For severe blockages, a coronary artery bypass graft may be required. A blood vessel from another part of your body is used to go around, or bypass, a blocked artery that supplies your heart.

What is URMC's approach?

URMC Cardiology offers all of the most advanced treatments available for angina pectoris and coronary artery disease. We are the only institution in the area that is part of an academic medical center, so we are involved in studies of the most recent treatments on heart disease. The cardiologists working in our outpatient clinics offer a multi-disciplinary approach to prevent and treat coronary artery disease.

Who should I contact?

If you have been diagnosed with coronary artery disease or have any symptoms of this disease, call URMC Cardiology at (585) 275-2475.

Learn more about Interventional Cardiology at URMC.


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