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Understanding the Heart Killer – Coronary Artery Disease

Featuring: Interventional Cardiologist Muhammad Raza, MD

We’ve often heard about how impaired blood flow to the heart can result in a heart attack and damage to the heart muscle. That’s putting it gently. Interventional cardiologist Muhammad Raza, MD, uses more stark language to describe what’s happening:

“The heart attack actually means that the heart muscle is actively dying.”

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a gradual-onset condition caused by growing deposits of cholesterol in heart arteries that eventually block the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to heart tissue. Unchecked deposits of cholesterol plaque can cause early symptoms such as pain, pressure, and a squeezing sensation in the chest as the heart pumps harder to send blood through the body. Such sensations should be considered the heart’s cry for help.

Narrowing arteries can send up other flares, such as:

  • Extreme fatigue or general body weakness
  • Light-headedness
  • Nausea and/or heartburn
  • Pain or discomfort in both arms or shoulders
  • Shortness of breath

Any of these with or without chest symptoms can indicate an ongoing process that, if ignored, can trigger an immediate and escalating medical emergency.

“When the heart muscle profusion or blood flow to the heart muscle tissue is significantly impaired, the heart muscle starts dying, and that’s a heart attack,” Dr. Raza continues. “If the heart blood vessel is 100% blocked, the heart muscle will start dying right away, within seconds, and will continue to die unless we open the blood vessel.”

There’s no resurrecting dead heart tissue, or rejuvenating damaged coronary arteries. BUT – as Dr. Raza explains to KYW’s Rasa Kaye — there have never been more effective treatment options (with more in the pipeline) and screening tools to help identify CAD in its earliest stages and even patients who are at high risk for developing it – to slow it, manage it, and prevent it.

Are you at risk for heart disease?

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