Heart Disease (Coronary Artery 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
- What is heart disease?
- What are the risk factors for heart disease?
- What causes heart disease?
- What are the symptoms of heart disease?
- How is heart disease diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for heart disease?
- What is the prognosis for heart disease?
- Can heart disease be prevented?
- Heart Disease FAQs
- Find a local Cardiologist in your town
What is the prognosis for heart disease?
An estimated 15.5 million patients in the United States have coronary artery disease. Each year, 1.5 million patients suffer an acute myocardial infarction and almost 600,000 people die.
With better understanding of the different presentations of heart disease, especially the “atypical” symptoms experienced by women and the elderly, the diagnosis of heart disease has improved. The prognosis is better for the patient when the diagnosis is made early and is treated.
Similarly, educating the public about early access to emergency services when a patient develops acute chest pain can help save lives. The goal for the treatment of heart disease is to maximize longevity and quality of life.
Can heart disease be prevented?
It may take 10 to15 years from the beginning of a plaque formation in a coronary artery to narrow that artery to constrict blood flow.
The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology have developed guidelines so that health care professionals may counsel and treat their patients to decrease the risk of developing heart disease. New attention is being paid to the role of weight reduction, diet, exercise, and the use of cholesterol-lowering medications called statins.
In the past, the goal for statin drugs like atorvastatin, was to lower the blood cholesterol level to a specific number and statins were prescribed for patients with high cholesterol levels or those who had had heart attacks. The new guidelines recommend that more patients may benefit from these statin drugs. Rather than having specific cholesterol numbers as a goal, the new goal is to lower the blood cholesterol level by 50% in high-risk patients and by 30% to 50% in those who are at lower risk to develop heart disease.
In addition to patients with a history of heart attack, transient ischemic attack (TIA), or stroke, statins may be appropriate for patients with high LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad” cholesterol), those who have type 2 diabetes, and those who have a 10-year risk of heart attack greater than 7.5%. You and your health care professional may estimate risk by using the American Heart Association's CV Risk Calculator.
Preventing heart disease is a lifelong commitment to control blood pressure and diabetes. Now, new opportunities exist to decrease risk even further with these new guidelines. These are also the steps to take to decrease the risk of stroke and peripheral artery disease.
Medically reviewed by Robert J. Bryg, MD; Board Certified Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Cardiovascular Disease
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Greenland, P., et al. "2010 ACCF/AHA guideline for assessment of cardiovascular risk in asymptomatic adults: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines." Journal of the American College of Cardiology 56.25 (2010): e50-e103.
Stone, N. J., et al. "2013 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Treatment of Blood Cholesterol to Reduce Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Risk in Adults: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines." Journal of the American College of Cardiology 7 Nov. 2013.
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