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Coronary Artery Disease Symptoms and What to Do About Them

For many, a heart attack is the first sign of coronary artery issues. Chances are, you’ll feel fine if you have coronary artery disease right up until the moment your heart attack begins. But if you know what to watch for you might be able to recognize the building danger and take action before a major coronary event occurs. 

Attentive primary care is an essential part of staying proactive against silent killers such as coronary artery disease. Stay current with your well patient visits at Family Medicine and Acute Care of Sandhills in Cameron, North Carolina. The team can help you with everything from routine physicals to medically-assisted weight loss, as well as with the specific symptoms of coronary artery disease. 

Understanding coronary artery disease

The leading cause of death in the United States, heart disease affects men and women equally.  Every year, heart disease causes almost 650,000 deaths in the US, as well as more than 800,000 heart attacks. 

Your coronary arteries carry blood to all parts of the heart muscle. They’re the major blood pipelines, critical to your heart, and coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common disease affecting this crucial organ. 

CAD occurs when the coronary arteries become damaged or narrowed, usually due to the accumulation of cholesterol plaques. The result is less blood flow to the heart. CAD can take decades to develop, so you may not have symptoms until you have significant blockage of a coronary artery. Any of the following five warning signs warrants medical evaluation.

Pain in the chest

The most classic symptom of coronary artery disease is chest pain or discomfort. You may experience chest pressure or tightness, or you may feel a squeezing sensation. This type of chest pain tends to worsen with physical activity as it places extra demand on your heart to supply blood to working muscles.

Breathing difficulty

Reduced blood flow lowers oxygen, and people with CAD commonly experience shortness of breath, which you may notice even with little physical effort. It’s not normal to become short of breath walking up a single flight of stairs, for example. Unusual shortness of breath should alert you that something is amiss, and it’s wise to seek follow-up medical advice. 

Easy fatigue

Similarly, CAD can cause sudden fatigue during or after exercise that leaves you feeling wiped out beyond normal post-workout tiredness. You may even struggle during typical day-to-day physical activities such as playing with your children or grandchildren. Unusual fatigue during physical activity warrants investigation. 

Dizziness or lightheadedness

With coronary artery disease, it’s common to feel lightheaded since all parts of your body may be undersupplied with essential oxygen. Again, this is more likely to occur during physical activity but can occur at rest as well. 

Irregular heartbeat

CAD can cause a rapid, pounding, or irregular heartbeat. Some people describe the feeling as if their heart is fluttering, skipping a beat, or beating with excessive force. This is called arrhythmia, and it can sometimes cause your heart to suddenly stop beating. 

Preventing CAD

Choosing healthy lifestyle choices can help reduce your risk of CAD. Consider the following changes to reduce your risk: 

Consider a partnership approach for your heart health by enlisting the team at Family Medicine and Acute Care of Sandhills. You can call the office directly or request an appointment online. Don’t delay.

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