While you may already know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States, did you know that heart disease isn’t one condition? Of the different types of heart disease, coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common, affecting about 20.5 million Americans.

Since CAD is the most prevalent form of heart disease, the team here at South Shore Cardiovascular Associates thought it would be a good idea to provide some key information about this disease.

Here, we take a look at why CAD is so serious, whether you can identify this condition, and how we can help.

CAD 101

Your heart’s primary duty is to receive blood from your veins and then send it through your lungs to pick up oxygen. After oxygenation, your heart then pumps the blood back out to your body. And round and round your blood goes, ensuring that critical resources reach every cell.

But, your heart isn’t just the driver, this organ also relies on the oxygen-rich blood to function, which is where your coronary arteries come in. These blood vessels are located across the surface of your heart and they’re responsible for making sure that your heart tissues are well supplied.

When you have CAD, there’s plaque buildup in the vessels that’s slowly decreasing how much blood your heart is receiving. This condition is called atherosclerosis and, while blood may still be getting through to your heart, the flow is compromised by the blockages in the arteries.

Signs of CAD

It would be nice if there were some obvious and early signs of CAD, but we’re afraid that usually isn’t the case. All too often, we only discover CAD after something serious occurs, such as a heart attack.

That said, people can develop symptoms of CAD, which include:

If you’re feeling these symptoms, it’s very important that you come see us so that we can take steps to improve the flow of blood to your heart.

If the symptoms come on suddenly and are accompanied by pain in your left shoulder or jaw, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting, please call 911 as this indicates a heart attack.

Risk factors for CAD

Since CAD doesn’t always present with symptoms, it can be helpful to understand your risk factors so that you can have us screen you for CAD.

The most influential risk factors for CAD include:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High cholesterol
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Age — over 45 for men and 55 for women

If you have a combination of these risk factors, our team feels it’s worth having us evaluate you for heart diseases like CAD. If we do find that you have CAD, we can design a treatment plan that will increase blood flow to your heart and reduce your risks for serious complications.

For a comprehensive coronary artery disease screening, as well as treatment, please book an appointment online or over the phone with South Shore Cardiovascular Associates today. We have offices in Brandon, Riverview, Tampa, and Sun City Center, Florida.

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