If you’re reading this, you probably know that Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is the number-one killer of both men and women in the United States, afflicting 400,000 Americans each year.

The killer part of that sentence is that it’s largely preventable. We know that lifestyle– as well as genetics– has a major effect on heart health. But there are a number of ways we can prevent this condition in you and your loved ones.

Coronary artery disease– also called hardening of the arteries, or Atherosclerosis- happens when plaque, a waxy substance, builds up and blocks the blood vessels. If blood is prevented from reaching the heart, the heart muscle begins to die. This leads to heart failure.

So how do we prevent this from happening? Dr. Diego will first ask about your family history. If you’ve had relatives with CAD, your risk is greater.

Here are some of the other factors that can lead to heart failure:

  • Smoking
  • High levels of certain fats and cholesterol in the blood
  • High blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance (diabetes)
  • Inflammation of the blood vessels

When Dr. Diego examines you, he will ask about your lifestyle and family history. If he feels you are a candidate for heart disease, there are things you can do yourself to lower your risk.

If you are a smoker with high blood pressure who is overweight and gets little exercise, your chances of suffering a heart attack are greatly increased. Other contributing factors include sleep apnea, stress, and alcohol.

Maybe you already have some of the signs or symptoms of CAD, such as irregular heartbeat (Arrhythmia), chest pain or pressure. A stress test (whereby you exercise while the doctor monitors your heart rate) or an EKG showing the heart’s electrical activity would help confirm the diagnosis.

In the event that you already have symptoms of CAD, Dr. Diego may discuss treatment options. He may suggest lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise, losing weight, or following a healthier diet. There are also medications that can reduce the strain on the heart and prevent heart attacks or strokes by inhibiting blood clots. Another option is Angioplasty, a non-surgical procedure to open clogged arteries. Cardiac Rehabilitation is another popular treatment, which is recommended for anyone with CAD– even minor cases. Cardiac rehab consists of exercise, education, and training. It’s designed to help patients adjust to a new lifestyle that will lessen the strain on their heart.

The important thing to remember is that CAD requires a commitment to a healthier lifestyle. If you are at risk of heart disease, wholesale and long-lasting changes will probably be prescribed. CAD is a chronic disease, and can’t be reversed or prevented with short-term solutions.

Call our Miami clinic if you have any of the signs and symptoms of CAD. Don’t wait to get started on a healthier path for your heart. In patients who show considerable blockage, coronary artery bypass may be necessary; this involves taking a blood vessel from another part of your body to improve blood flow around the blocked arteries.