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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Risk of Heart Attack and Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is the most prevalent type of heart disease, affecting nearly 13 million people in America alone. It is caused by the gradual accumulation of plaque-fatty deposits-in the coronary artery (the main artery supplying blood within the heart), over several years. The result is a decreased supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. If left untreated, CAD can lead to heart attack and death. The most dangerous thing about CAD is that it can act as a ‘silent killer’ i.e. it causes the death of the patient without any warning symptoms or signs. But usually 3 main warning signs are experienced by many CAD patients. These are:

(1) Angina (Chest Pain): It feels like pressure or tightness in the chest, often appearing suddenly in a stressful situation. The stress may be physical or psychological.
(2) Shortness of Breath: Fatigue and shortness of breath are two main alarming signs of CAD. Usually, these are accompanied by swelling in the feet and ankles. The end result of these may be Congestive Heart Failure (CHF).
(3) Heart Attack: A heart attack occurs when one or more of the arteries supplying blood to the heart become completely clogged (with plaque). The pain in heart attack is similar to but more intense than that in angina.

Some precursors of heart attack are listed below. If any or more of these are experienced, it’s time to see your physician.

Pain in the chest, radiating to the left shoulder, arm, back, or jaw
Repeated encounters with pain in the chest
Prolonged pain in the upper abdomen
Shortness of breath
Nausea and vomiting
Impending sense of doom

More can be learnt about CAD and heart attack by visiting Dr. Rodger Murphree’s website

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