Heart Disease (cont.)
Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Daniel Lee Kulick, MD, FACC, FSCAI
Dr. Kulick received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Southern California, School of Medicine. He performed his residency in internal medicine at the Harbor-University of California Los Angeles Medical Center and a fellowship in the section of cardiology at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiology.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Heart disease facts
- Introduction to heart disease
- What are the risk factors for heart disease?
- What are the symptoms of heart disease?
- How is heart disease diagnosed?
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
- Stress testing
- Perfusion studies
- Computerized tomography
- Heart catheterization or coronary angiography
- What is the treatment for heart disease?
- Prevention of heart disease
- Modifying risk factors for heart disease
- Medications for heart disease
- Angioplasty and stents for heart disease
- Surgery for heart disease
- Heart Disease FAQs
- Find a local Cardiologist in your town
Heart catheterization or coronary angiography
This test is the gold standard for the diagnosis of coronary artery disease. A cardiologist inserts and then threads a small tube through the groin or arm into the coronary arteries, where dye is injected to directly visualize the arteries on an x-ray. This test defines the anatomy of the coronary arteries. At the time of the catheterization, if blockages are found, they may be potentially treated with angioplasty in which a balloon is inflated to squash the plaque into the blood vessel wall and the insertion of a stent (wire cage that prevents the blood vessel from narrowing again).
CT coronary angiogram may be used test to diagnose coronary artery disease. During this procedure, intravenous dye containing iodine is injected into the patient and CT scanning is performed to image the coronary arteries.
Prior to the angiogram, a calcium score may be obtained. The calcium CT scan can measure the amount of calcium within heart blood vessels. If the score is 0, meaning that there is no calcium present, the risk of having heart disease is zero. The higher the score, the increased risk of narrowed coronary arteries.
What is the treatment for heart disease?
Coronary artery disease is usually treated in a multi-step approach depending upon a patient's symptoms. The patient and healthcare provider need to work together to return the patient to a normal lifestyle.
Prevention of heart disease
The key to the treatment is prevention. A healthy lifestyle includes exercise, proper nutrition, and smoking cessation. Moreover, controlling diabetes and high blood pressure to minimize contribution risk for heart disease is a major aspect of prevention.
An aspirin a day is recommended to decrease the risk for heart disease and should be started with the recommendation of a health care practitioner.
A little alcohol (one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men) decreases the risk of heart disease compared to nondrinkers. However, it is not recommended that nondrinkers begin drinking.
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