Coronary artery disease could potentially cause a severe and life-threatening crisis like cardiac arrest. If you want to know whether you have coronary artery disease, board-certified cardiology and interventional cardiology specialists Rakesh Sahni, MD, and Sheila Sahni, MD, of Sahni Heart Center in Clark, Fords, Red Bank, and City of Orange, New Jersey, can help. Make an appointment over the phone today, or you can also use the online booking form for Sahni Heart Center’s Clark, New Jersey, office.

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What is coronary artery disease?

Coronary artery disease is a serious condition caused by a narrowing of your coronary arteries. These are the blood vessels that deliver oxygen-rich blood to your heart. Coronary artery disease can lead to a heart attack or, in some cases, sudden cardiac death.

Coronary artery disease develops because of a buildup of plaque in your arteries. Plaque is a substance formed from cholesterol and other particles in your blood. The sticky plaque starts to attach itself to the walls of the arteries, and builds up over the years.

As a result, your arteries get narrower and stiffer. Blood can’t get to your heart as quickly as it should through narrowed arteries, which means your heart doesn’t get the oxygen it needs. The plaque can also break off in lumps and block the artery completely.

Why would I get coronary artery disease?

Your risk of developing coronary artery disease is higher if:

  • You’re over 65
  • You have diabetes or high blood pressure
  • There’s a history of heart disease in your family

One of the key risk factors for coronary artery disease is your weight. If you’re overweight or obese, your risk is far higher. Being overweight means the levels of bad cholesterols (LDL and VLDL) in your blood are likely to be high.

LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein) cholesterols are the main components of plaque, so having a high cholesterol level is a significant risk.

How is coronary artery disease diagnosed?

Dr. Sahni carries out a physical exam and goes over your medical history and current symptoms with you first. You probably need blood tests to check your cholesterol levels too.

Dr. Sahni might also want to run some diagnostic tests, which could include:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Stress test
  • MRI scan
  • Nuclear stress test
  • Heart (CT) scan

In some cases, Dr. Sahni might need to do a coronary angiogram. This involves injecting a dye into your coronary arteries that shows up on X-ray imaging or a CT scan.

How is coronary artery disease treated?

To improve the health of your arteries, you need to make some changes to your lifestyle, for example:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Healthier diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Losing excess weight
  • Reducing stress

If your coronary artery disease needs additional treatment, Dr. Sahni might prescribe medications to lower cholesterol, thin your blood, or reduce blood pressure. These medications include:

  • Cholesterol-modifying medications
  • Aspirin
  • Beta-blockers
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Ranolazine
  • Nitroglycerin
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)

Depending on the severity of your coronary artery disease, you might need to undergo surgery. One option is angioplasty and stent placement, a minimally invasive way of widening your arteries by flattening the plaque inside them. A stent is a mesh tube that keeps the artery open.

Another option is coronary artery bypass surgery, which involves open-heart surgery. This is an option when you have severe coronary artery disease affecting multiple arteries.

Find out if you’re at risk of coronary artery disease by calling Sahni Heart Center today, or you can choose to book online for the Clark, New Jersey, office.