Understanding Coronary Artery Disease
The heart is considered to be one of the strongest muscle in the human body. It ceaselessly beats every minute and every hour of the day, supplying oxygen to the other organs that keep the body alive. As most people know, the heart is as big as one’s closed fist. It is divided into four chambers with the upper two being referred to as the atria, and the lower two being referred to as the ventricles. The atria are the ones receiving blood from the veins. This blood has depleted levels of oxygen. On the other hand, the ventricles are the ones that send out blood filled with oxygen. These chambers are the ones connected to the arteries. Now, these arteries branch out into even smaller blood vessels known as the capillaries.
The heart itself has blood vessels feeding it the needed oxygen. These blood vessels are known as the coronary arteries. These arteries can be seen on the surface of the heart. These arteries are very important as any blockage along these blood vessels can cause heart attack. This is what is known as a coronary artery disease. In this kind of heart condition, the coronary arteries become hardened due to the build up of plaque along the walls. In majority of the cases, the plaque is caused by too much LDL in one’s system. Some of the factors that could increase the risk for developing such heart disease include smoking, hypertension, and diabetes.
In a coronary artery disease the coronary arteries become narrowed by as much as 70%. When this happens, the blood being supplied to the other organs of the body may not be enough, which would also mean that the oxygen supply is insufficient, especially if the person is exercising. What happens next is chest pain, or what is more commonly known as angina. Although most people would experience this, there are those that have what is known as a silent angina. These people are at higher risk since they do not have any “alert” that a heart attack is about to take place. If the person also has a blood clot along with the plaque, there would be no place for the blood to flow through. This is the time when the person would be suffering from a heart attack.
In some cases, a person might have as much as 90% narrowing of the blood vessels. This is what medical professionals refer to as an unstable angina. In this condition, the person might feel a sudden crushing pain in the chest for no apparent reason. This is the reason why an unstable angina is also referred to as a sleeping angina. Most of the time, a stable angina can progress to an unstable angina.
If you suspect that you or someone you know might have coronary artery disease, you should prepare yourself by knowing how to administer CPR. If that is not possible, at least have an AED unit on hand.