Joseph Solomito, MD, Discusses Coronary Artery Disease
The heart is the muscle. Like any muscle in the body, it requires blood flow. Sometimes those arteries become clogged up. And this can happen over a period of years or it can happen over a period of days. When those arteries get clogged up, blood flow is decreased and people get angina, or chest pain, heart pain. If the artery closes entirely, then that portion of the heart muscle doesn't get any blood flow and damage occurs – that's what a heart attack is. And so, coronary disease, basically, is any disruption in the blood flow in those coronary arteries.
There is an inherited tendency to develop coronary disease. If you take medicine to keep the cholesterol down, to get your blood pressure under control, if you keep your sugar low, then your risk decreases.
We like to think that everybody gets a warning, and, and if you read in the newspapers and magazine articles, you'll see chest pain described as, usually described as, a heaviness or a tightness in the middle of the chest, frequently radiating up to the jaws, sometimes to the left shoulder and left arm, this is typically with physical exercise, such as walking or climbing stairs, although it can occur at rest as well, but the reality is not everybody gets that warning and lots of times the very first warning that you get is a heart attack.
You can't eliminate it and you can't eliminate your risk, but there is a lot you can do to decrease your risk. Here are the big risks: High blood pressure, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, cigarette smoking and sugar diabetes.
So, if you have high blood pressure, you get it controlled by diet and medications - that decreases the risk. If you have diabetes, you take the proper medications and the proper diet to get the diabetes under control, and we know that the better controlled the diabetes is, the decrease, the lower the risk is. If you are overweight, lose weight. If you are sedentary, you exercise.
Simply increasing your exercise from totally sedentary to what we call mild to moderate exercise, define that as climbing 2 flights of stairs per day, will significantly decrease your risk of coronary disease.
Atrium Medical Center, when we designed it, specifically was designed to be able to provide a full line of cardiovascular services. We can do inpatient and outpatient diagnostic testing, both invasive, such as cardiac catheterization and non-invasive, such as stress testing. We offer a full line of imaging services: Echocardiography, nuclear imaging, to make the proper diagnosis. Once we have a diagnosis made, we can also provide a full line of services to treat that diagnosis, including coronary bypass surgery, angioplasty, stenting, pretty much state-of-the art.
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