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Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease (CAD), also known as coronary heart disease, is the most common type of heart disease, and is the leading cause of death in United States among both men and women.

Coronary artery disease relates to the gradual build-up of plaque in the coronary arteries, which causes the arteries to narrow or even clog the flow of blood. If an artery becomes totally blocked, the heart muscle becomes "starved" for oxygen and nutrients. Permanent damage to the heart muscle cells can occur. This is most commonly called a heart attack.

Hoag is among the top decile in the nation for lower readmission rates in coronary artery disease patients, as defined in a performance scorecard by IBM Watson Health™, part of Hoag’s 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals designation. Tracking the number of patients re-admitted to a hospital within 30 days of discharge is a routine measurement of quality of care.

Learn how Hoag treats Chronic Total Occlusion (CTO).

Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease may include:

  • Chest pain, pressure or tightness (angina pectoris)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Pain in the upper body and arm
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat

Screenings & Diagnostics

An individual being evaluated for possible coronary artery disease may begin with the simplest tests such as an EKG or exercise stress test and may progress to more complicated tests such as heart catheterization or angiogram. Specific tests depend on the patient's particular symptoms and the physician's assessment. Some of these tests are non-invasive - that is, they don't involve inserting needles, instruments or fluids into the body. Those that do are called invasive tests.

Treatment Options

Treatment options for coronary artery disease include:

  • Medication - Many medications can prevent the discomfort of angina (pressure or squeezing in your chest). The medications work to increase the blood flow to the heart muscle or reduce the heart's demand for oxygen by slowing the heart rate and reducing blood pressure.
  • Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) - PCI is a less invasive option for CAD. It involves inserting catheters through the wrist or groin and up into the heart. Once inside, skilled interventional cardiologists can insert stents into the artery and open them up. Most stents release medication to help keep the arteries open.
  • Surgery - Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG) is another approach to treating CAD. Using a vessel from another part of the body, a surgeon will create a graft to bypass blocked coronary arteries. This allows blood to flow around the blocked or narrowed artery.

The best treatment path will be determined by your healthcare team. At Hoag, we offer highly skilled interventional cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons who work together to provide specialized care for coronary artery disease.