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A Picture Guide to Coronary Artery Disease

Your heart is an amazing powerhouse that pumps and circulates 5 or 6 gallons of blood each minute through your entire body.
A human aorta opened lengthwise showing atherosclerosis (thickening and hardening of the arterial wall as a result of fat deposits on the inner surface).
Blockage of the coronary arteries by plaque may cause a heart attack (myocardial infarction) or a fatal rhythm disturbance (sudden cardiac arrest).
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.
Some of the risk factors for heart disease include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity.
Additional heart disease risk factors include lack of exercise, an unhealthy diet, stress, and a 'Type A' personality.
One of the most devastating consequences of heart disease can be sudden cardiac arrest.
Besides chest pain (angina) and shortness of breath, some other common symptoms of heart disease include jaw pain, back pain, and heart palpitations.
Other symptoms of heart disease may include dizziness, weakness, irregular heartbeat, nausea, and abdominal pain.
Women, seniors, and people with diabetes tend to experience heart disease differently than men.
Doctors use a variety of tests to detect heart disease. One common test is the electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG).
Sometimes, if an electrocardiogram comes back normal, doctors will use stress tests to detect heart disease.
Another test option is echocardiography, which uses sound waves to generate images of the heart.
Computerized tomography (CT) scans are used to show that heart disease is not present and that the coronary arteries are normal.
Coronary angiography via cardiac catheterization is considered the
Heart-disease treatment is different for everyone.
For some patients with heart disease, medications may be necessary.
When medications aren't enough, sometimes invasive procedures are used to help treat heart disease.
Heart disease is a highly preventable and reversible disease. A healthy diet is a major factor in controlling heart disease.
Other lifestyle changes that can be made  to help prevent heart disease include drinking alcohol in moderation and quitting smoking.
Exercise, controlling high blood pressure and diabetes, and taking daily aspirin are more ways to reduce your chances of developing heart disease.

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Reviewed by Robert J. Bryg, MD on Wednesday, July 27, 2016

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