The Connection Between Coronary Artery Disease, Angina And Heart Attack
Cardiovascular disease, also referred to coronary artery disease, is an umbrella term for a number of different conditions which affect the heart and circulatory system. Almost everyone has heard of heart attacks. We’ve seen TV shows in which people, usually men, fall suddenly, clutching their chest in agony.
The truth is that heart attack symptoms are not always that dramatic, and they can be different in men and women. Also, not all chest pain is a heart attack.
So what is coronary artery disease (CAD)? CAD involves a narrowing of the coronary arteries, the arteries which supply the heart muscle with oxygen-rich blood which keeps our tissue healthy. In a women with no heart disease, these arteries will be wide open similar to an unclogged pipe.
In women with cardiovascular disease (CVD), their pipes are clogged with what is termed “plaque”, a waxy and fatty buildup created primarily by LDL cholesterol particles, also know as, bad cholesterol. If the arteries that supply blood to the heart get very narrow or completely clogged, the heart tissue will not get an adequate amount of oxygen and become damaged and start to die. If the heart attack is not treated, severe heart damage can occur and unfortunately can end in death,
A woman with CVD may not always know they have it, but in some cases, they might get a warning sign, pain know as angina. Angina is caused by a temporary reduction of blood flow to the heart through a narrowed arteries.
There are 2 kinds of angina, stable and unstable. Stable angina is the most common. It is often triggered by stress, food, drugs and other substances that narrow or constrict blood vessels, such as caffeine or nicotine. It isn’t a heart attack, but it’s a sign that you’re more likely to have one in the future without some positive heart-healthy lifestyle modifications.
Unstable angina occurs for no particular reason, and comes even when you are at rest or relaxation. The pain can range from mild to severe, and may be intermittent. This is a signal of a potential heart attack and should not be ignored. It is critical that all these events be dealt with immediately. Your goal is to get to the hospital during the “golden hour” to keep any possible permanent damage to a minimum.
In the event you truly were have a heart related event, your doctor’s goal will be to stabilize your condition and allow blood to flow again to the starved heart muscle. For this reason, it may be important to rush to a hospital with a 24-hour cardiac care facility. Limiting the size of heart damage by opening up the blocked artery, using either thrombolytic agents or balloon angioplasty within the first few hours of the heart attack has made a major difference to survival of patients in recent years.
If you suspect you have angina, discuss with your doctor the best steps to avoid CVD or stop it from worsening. And don’t forget that prevention goes a LONG way. Food, lifestyle, and supplementation can make all the difference. Call us if we can help.