Being diagnosed with coronary heart disease doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world for you. Proper knowledge about the disease condition, its causes and the signs and symptoms can help you prevent and detect the illness at an early time. Strict compliance with the medical management is also a must for faster recovery. Here’s a lowdown on what Coronary Heart Disease is all about.
Coronary Heart Disease is the loss of oxygen and nutrients to the heart because of inadequate coronary blood flow. There are two forms of this disease and these are atherosclerotic heart disease which is the formation of plaques in the coronary artery which leads to calcification and narrowing of the arterial wall. Angina pectoris is another form of coronary heart disease wherein the patient is experiencing a chest pain associated with transient myocardial ischemia.
Causes of Coronary heart disease
Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of the disease. Formation of plaques leads to narrowing of the lumen of the coronary artery leading to inadequate blood supply to the area which results in myocardial ischemia and can also provoke myocardial infarction also known as heart attack.
Signs and Symptoms
Substernal or precordial pain radiating to the left shoulder or heaviness/tightness/squeezing pain which is precipitated by exertion, emotional stress and exposure to cold indicated having the disease. Furthermore, the myocardial pain can be relieved with rest and the use of nitroglycerin tablets.
· Physical exam and during a patient interview can denote the frequency and duration of angina.
· Coronary angiography will reveal a narrowing or occlusion of the coronary artery in patients with Coronary heart disease
· Electrocardiography will show ischemia of the heart, arrhythmias or irregular pattern of functioning of the heart.
· The stress test would also reveal myocardial ischemia
The goal of the treatment is to increase the oxygen supply to the myocardium and relief of acute attacks. The therapy includes administration of nitrates such as nitroglycerin which is the drug of choice. It acts to relieve pain in about 3 minutes and has duration of approximately 45 minutes by producing dilation of coronary blood vessels. Expected side effects of this drug are headache, dizziness, and flushing. The patient may also experience a burning sensation under his tongue which indicates that the drug is taking effect. It is advisable to take nitroglycerin prior to any physical activity, before eating a large meal or engaging in sexual intercourse for maximum benefit. Beta adrenergic blocker such as propanolol (Inderal) is given if nitrates are not effective in managing the pain. Side effects include: nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, extreme fatigue, and hypoglycemia (low level of blood sugar). Beta adrenergic blockers work by decreasing the oxygen requirement of the heart by means of slowing down the heart rate and redistributing the blood flow to non-ischemic portion of the heart.
Prevention is always better than cure. Dietary restrictions such as having a low salt, low fat diet are recommended to prevent the formation of fatty deposits in the artery. People are also advised to engage in regular exercise programs to promote proper blood flow and reduce weight. Cigarette smoking is also prohibited as this is one of the major culprits for atherosclerosis. Having a calm and relaxed atmosphere also prevents stress which can lead to myocardial infarction if not prevented.
Tips and comments:
With proper diet, regular exercise and healthy lifestyle, there’s no way that you can’t manage coronary heart disease. Always remember to take good care of your health as it would also take good care of you and lead you to a longer, happier and healthier life.