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Coronary Artery Disease & Heart Attacks

Excellent Care for Coronary Artery Disease & Heart Attacks

Vascular specialists at University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute are highly trained in the diagnosis and treatment of hardening or narrowing of the arteries, also called atherosclerotic disease or atherosclerosis. Our goal is to help patients living with this condition reduce their risk of a heart attack, stroke or aneurysm and live a higher quality of life.

Hardening or narrowing of the arteries is the buildup of cholesterol, fats and other fatty substances known as plaque on the inner walls of the arteries. This condition restricts blood flow to the heart and can affect the arteries in the heart, lungs and other organs. Atherosclerotic disease can occur in an artery anywhere in your body, leading to the following complications:

  • Coronary heart disease: Coronary artery disease affects the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle.
  • Carotid artery disease: Carotid artery disease impacts the arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain.
  • Kidney disease: Kidney disease is the reduction of blood flow to the kidneys because of atherosclerosis of the renal arteries.
  • Peripheral artery disease: Peripheral artery disease occurs in the legs, arms and lower body and leads to circulation problems in the extremities.

Recognizing Risk Factors for Hardening or Narrowing of the Arteries

Besides aging, risk factors that may increase your chances of developing this condition include:

Reducing these risk factors is a vital aspect of treatment. To prevent and reverse the hardening or narrowing of arteries, we recommend a heart healthy diet that is low in saturated fat and high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, along with regular exercise. We also suggest quitting smoking and controlling chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring

At University Hospitals, we offer a test called coronary artery calcium scoring. This non-invasive diagnostic procedure can warn you of any extensive hardening of the arteries. If your calcium score is high, your arteries are likely hardening and your risk of developing coronary artery disease is significant.

Coronary artery calcium scoring is recommended for men age 45 or older and women age 55 or older who do not have a history of coronary artery disease. It is also a good idea for anyone with one or more risk factors for heart disease.

Conservative and Surgical Treatments Available

In addition to reducing risk factors, the hardening or narrowing of arteries may be treated with medication. Our heart and vascular specialists at UH may prescribe medications to control blood pressure, lower cholesterol, prevent blood clot formation and improve blood flow.

If lifestyle changes and medications are not effective, one of the following surgical procedures may be recommended:

  • Angioplasty and stent placement: In an angioplasty, a surgeon will insert a long tube called a catheter into the narrowed part of your artery. Another catheter with a deflated balloon will then be passed through the catheter to the narrowed area. Next, the balloon will be inflated to compress the deposits against the artery walls. Lastly, a stent may be placed in your artery to keep it open.
  • Endarterectomy: An endarterectomy involves surgically removing fatty deposits from the walls of the narrowed artery.
  • Bypass surgery: In bypass surgery, a vessel from another part of your body is used to create a graft bypass and allow blood to flow around the blocked or narrowed artery.

Learn More about Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring

To learn more about diagnostic tests, including coronary artery calcium scoring, contact one of our heart specialists at University Hospitals. We have appointments available with our expert team at convenient locations near you.