Coronary Artery Disease & Heart Attacks

Highly Specialized Care for Coronary Artery Disease

Nearly 16 million people in the United States are living with heart disease that specifically affects the coronary arteries, called coronary artery disease (CAD) or coronary atherosclerosis. Although it is a progressive condition that begins early in life and may go unnoticed for years, it can be treated or even reversed if it is detected in time.

University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute provides highly specialized routine to complex care for all types of coronary artery disease. Our advanced coronary artery disease treatment options paired with our comprehensive rehabilitation program and team-based approach allow patients to achieve a healthy and active lifestyle while preventing future complications.

Coronary artery disease is marked by inflammation and a buildup of fatty deposits, also called plaque, in the arteries. It narrows the arteries and restricts the blood flow that carries the essential nutrients and oxygen to the heart. As plaque buildup grows, the risk for blood clots, heart attack and heart failure increases.

Coronary artery disease risk factors include:

Comprehensive Diagnostic Tests & Procedures at Accredited Vascular Labs

At UH, we are dedicated to providing prompt, convenient and advanced care for coronary artery disease. Our accredited vascular labs across the system provide thorough testing and imaging to evaluate arterial disease.

If you display symptoms of coronary artery disease such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, irregular heartbeats, weakness or nausea, we may perform one or more of the following diagnostic tests:

  • Cardiac catheterization: This test involves inserting a long, thin tube called a catheter into an artery and threading it to the heart to check for problems in the coronary arteries.
  • Echocardiogram (echo): A test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of your heart. An echo can show areas of poor blood flow to the heart.
  • Electrocardiograms (ECG): ECGs record the electrical activity of the heart.
  • Exercise stress test: An exercise stress test uses an ECG and is conducted on a stationary bike to measure heart and lung function during physical activity.
  • Nuclear stress test: The nuclear stress test measures the blood flow to the heart during rest, activity and stress to determine if it is low.

Expert Treatment of Coronary Artery Disease

One of the most effective treatments for coronary artery disease is making lifestyle changes to reduce risk factors including:

  • Heart healthy diet
  • Increase physical activity
  • Stop smoking
  • Control blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Improve diabetes management

In many cases, lifestyle changes in combination with blood thinners or medications to lower blood pressure and cholesterol can help patients control coronary artery disease. However, if a surgical procedure is necessary, our highly trained and experienced interventional cardiologists and heart surgeons may suggest one of the following:

  • Angioplasty: An angioplasty involves guiding a deflated balloon through your arteries and using X-rays to pinpoint where the blockage is located in your coronary artery. The balloon is then inflated to widen the artery and increase blood flow.
  • Coronary artery stent placement: A mesh wire tube known as a stent is placed into your artery to keep it open. This procedure uses the same technique as angioplasty.
  • Coronary artery bypass: During a coronary artery bypass, veins from another part of your body are grafted onto your heart to allow blood to flow around blockages.

Three-Phase Approach for Complete Heart Rehabilitation

Our heart rehabilitation specialists are dedicated to helping patients improve their health and prevent future complications after a heart attack or heart-related procedure. We use a proven three-phase approach that focuses on your total wellness.

The first phase of our heart rehabilitation program begins in the hospital. Cardiologists, exercise physiologists, dietitians and nurses will educate you and your family on your condition. You’ll receive recommendations, exercise support and information on risk factors to ensure appropriate care once you are discharged.

In the second phase of our program, you can expect monitored exercise, education and risk factor reduction. Our cardiovascular rehab specialists will design an individualized care plan based on your unique needs and goals.

The third and final phase involves helping you build a lifelong commitment to heart-healthy lifestyle changes while preventing future heart issues. Education and counseling, a prescribed exercise routine and medically supervised exercise training sessions are all incorporated into the third phase of the program.

Specialized support through a national organization called Mended Hearts is available as well. Mended Hearts has inspired hope in heart disease patients and their families for more than 60 years and can help you understand that it is possible to enjoy a rich and rewarding life after a heart event.

For More Information about Coronary Artery Disease Diagnosis and Treatment at University Hospitals

Early detection of coronary artery disease is critical to improving or even reversing any damage to your heart. If you or someone you love is experiencing any of the signs of heart disease, contact one of our coronary artery disease specialists at any of our convenient UH locations.