Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death globally and therefore must be taken very seriously. It's important to know the risk factors in order to decrease your chance for coronary artery disease and a possible eventual heart attack. These risk factors include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history, and depression and autoimmune diseases as well. It's important to know which risk factors you have and to talk with your doctor about medications as well as lifestyle modifications to control these risk factors. Coronary artery disease is caused by these risk factors and is caused by decreased blood flow to your heart over time. This process is known as atherosclerosis where there's plaque buildup in the arteries that decrease the blood flow to your heart. By modifying these risk factors, you can then have better control of this disease. There are many different tests that are done that your doctors will do, such as an EKG, echocardiogram, and stress test that can all aid in the diagnosis of this disease. There are many treatments thereafter if these tests come back positive, such as a coronary angiogram (better known as a cardiac catheterization) which can directly look at the vessels in your heart and possible treatment, which would be stenting if necessary, as well as medical treatment, which would include blood thinning medications (such as aspirin or an antiplatelet agent) as well as other medications that help dilate the arteries (such as amlodipine or hydralazine and nitrates.) Lastly, if medication fails, a CABG may be warranted if you have three vessel disease or left main disease. In this surgery, a cardiothoracic surgeon will implant a vein (usually from your leg) and bypass the blockage in your heart. After this surgery, you would need to take blood thinning medications as well. It is a cure for the disease, however, the disease may recur over time if your risk factors are not well controlled. Therefore, it's important over time to to control your risk factors and follow-up with your doctor regularly to make sure that these are all well controlled.
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