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Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2017). In fact, heart disease is responsible for about one in every four deaths in our country. Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease. If you have been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, you may qualify for free home healthcare services. Call United Energy Workers Healthcare Today to Learn More. 

What Is Coronary Artery Disease?

As stated above, coronary artery disease, or CAD, is the most common type of heart disease in the United States. It is also the leading cause of death amongst both men and women in our country. 

Coronary artery disease occurs as a result of the buildup of cholesterol and plaque on the inner walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This process of this buildup is called atherosclerosis. As buildup grows, it eventually becomes so significant that the arteries become hardened and more narrow, restricting the amount of blood that can flow through the arteries, and therefore the amount of oxygen and blood that flows to the heart. This, in turn, can cause chest pain and, in severe cases, a heart attack. 

While a heart attack or chest pain is a more acute and immediate effect of atherosclerosis, over time, the muscle of the heart can weaken due to reduced blood and oxygen flow. This can lead to changes in the heart’s normal beating patterns, referred to as arrhythmias, as well as heart failure (MedlinePlus 2016). 

What Are the Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease?

As explained above, when a person is suffering from CAD, their arteries have narrowed, and therefore the body is prevented from being able to supply enough blood to the heart. As such, this can result in a number of symptoms, especially at times when the heart is beating hard, such as during exercise. Some of the symptoms of CAD include:

  • Feelings of pain in the chest, called angina. Feelings of pain or tightness in the chest may occur at any time, but are more common when a person is experiencing a stressful activity or moment. Just stress alone, without any physical stressors like exercise, can cause angina. 
  • Inability to breath and shortness of breath, which is intensified when performing physical movements, such as lifting something heavy, walking up stairs, or exercising. 
  • Heart attack – the most severe symptom of CAD is that of having a heart attack. This occurs if the artery is completely blocked, resulting in a lack of blood and oxygen to the heart. Sometimes, a heart attack is accompanied by other symptoms, such as severe pain in the chest and left arm, or even jaw and neck pain. 

How Does Coronary Artery Disease Occur and What Are the Risk Factors?

Coronary artery disease occurs when the inner layer of the coronary artery is damaged, which then allows fatty deposits, like cholesterol, to accumulate, leading to atherosclerosis. There are a number of different things that can lead to damage of the inner layer of the coronary artery, including smoking, being sedentary, having high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or having diabetes. 

In addition to the above activities, there are numerous other risk factors that increase the chances of someone developing coronary artery disease. Note that in many cases, these risk factors are not causation, but merely correlation. Risk factors, according to the Mayo Clinic (2018), include:

  • Age – those who are older have an increased risk of coronary artery disease;
  • Sex – men tend to be at a greater risk of CAD;
  • High stress – having high levels of stress can lead to damaged arteries, as well as increase other risk factors associated with CAD;
  • Hereditary factors – having a family history of CAD, especially having an immediate relative with CAD, such as a parent or sibling, increases your chances of the condition.

In addition to the above, poor health, including some factors already mentioned, increase the risk of CAD. Eating a poor diet, failing to exercise, obesity, smoking, having diabetes, and having high cholesterol are all associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease. 

Treatment

Treatment for CAD may include lifestyle changes (such as changes to your diet and exercise routine), the use of prescription drugs, and even certain surgeries, such as an angioplasty and stent placement. 

Home Healthcare Services

For those suffering from certain health conditions, home healthcare benefits are available for free through the EEOICPA/RECA program. To learn more about United Energy Workers Healthcare and the free home healthcare services we provide, please reach out to us by phone or online today. 

Sources:

Mayo Clinic. (2018, May 16). Coronary artery disease. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronary-artery-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20350613

Medline Plus. (2016, November 1). Coronary artery disease. Retrieved from: https://medlineplus.gov/coronaryarterydisease.html

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, November 28). Heart Disease Facts. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

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