Coronary Artery Disease


At Riverview Cardiac Surgery, we reguarly answer the question what is coronary artery disease and how is it treated. When your coronary arteries, the major blood vessels that supply blood to the heart, become damaged or diseased, coronary artery disease develops.

These essential blood vessels usually become damaged from plaque that forms on the arteries. Plaque narrows the passageway for blood to reach the heart causing your heart to receive less blood, oxygen and nutrition.

The severity can range from reduced blood flow to a total blockage. The latter is a very serious condition and almost always results in a heart attack.

Image Courtesy of A.D.A.M.

Image Courtesy of A.D.A.M.


In most cases, coronary artery disease is a condition that takes time to develop and the decreased blood flow may not cause any symptoms. In fact, many patients don’t experience any symptoms at all prior to having a heart attack.

As the disease worsens, you may experience symptoms, including:

  • Chest Pain (angina): This tends to be brought on by physical and/or emotional stress and feels as is someone were physically standing on your chest.
  • Shortness of Breath: This occurs when your heart cannot pump enough blood to meet your body’s oxygen needs.
  • Heart Attack: Heart attack occurs when a coronary artery becomes blocked. Typical signs of a heart attack are pressure in your chest, pain in the arm or shoulder, sometimes accompanied by shortness of breath and sweating.

If you suspect you’re having a heart attack – Call 911 immediately.

Causes & Risk Factors

As stated above, coronary artery disease is caused when your coronary arteries are damaged and the heart’s blood supply is reduced or blocked. When the wall of an artery is damaged, plaque and blood cells tend to accumulate at the site of the injury to try and repair it. This clump can narrow or even block the artery leading to a heart attack.

Some common factors thought to contribute to coronary artery disease are:

  • Smoking
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Diabetes


In addition to taking a complete medical history, Riverview Cardiac Surgery will do a complete physical exam and order blood work. In addition, your doctor may recommend one or several of the following tests to reach a firm diagnosis:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Stress Test
  • Cardiac catheterization/angiogram
  • CT Scan
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)


Once you’ve been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, your doctor will usually recommend a combination of lifestyle changes, drugs and medical procedures to treat your condition.

Lifestyle Changes

  • Quit smoking
  • Practice proper diet and exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduce stress


  • Cholesterol-modifying medication
  • Aspirin
  • Beta blockers
  • Nitroglycerin
  • Calcium channel blockers
 Medical Procedures
  • Angioplasty and stent placement
  • Coronary artery bypass surgery

Your Choice is Clear
Riverview Cardiac Surgery have been trusted by more than 10,000 patients to perform surgery for diseases of the lungs and heart. Call to schedule an appointment.