Heart Disease (cont.)

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Heart catheterization or coronary angiography

This test is the gold standard for the diagnosis of coronary artery disease. A cardiologist inserts and then threads a small tube through the groin or arm into the coronary arteries, where dye is injected to directly visualize the arteries on an x-ray. This test defines the anatomy of the coronary arteries. At the time of the catheterization, if blockages are found, they may be potentially treated with angioplasty in which a balloon is inflated to squash the plaque into the blood vessel wall and the insertion of a stent (wire cage that prevents the blood vessel from narrowing again).

CT coronary angiogram may be used test to diagnose coronary artery disease. During this procedure, intravenous dye containing iodine is injected into the patient and CT scanning is performed to image the coronary arteries.

Prior to the angiogram, a calcium score may be obtained. The calcium CT scan can measure the amount of calcium within heart blood vessels. If the score is 0, meaning that there is no calcium present, the risk of having heart disease is zero. The higher the score, the increased risk of narrowed coronary arteries.

What is the treatment for heart disease?

Coronary artery disease is usually treated in a multi-step approach depending upon a patient's symptoms. The patient and healthcare provider need to work together to return the patient to a normal lifestyle.

Prevention of heart disease

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The key to the treatment is prevention. A healthy lifestyle includes exercise, proper nutrition, and smoking cessation. Moreover, controlling diabetes and high blood pressure to minimize contribution risk for heart disease is a major aspect of prevention.

An aspirin a day is recommended to decrease the risk for heart disease and should be started with the recommendation of a health care practitioner.

A little alcohol (one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men) decreases the risk of heart disease compared to nondrinkers. However, it is not recommended that nondrinkers begin drinking.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/22/2014

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Heart Disease - Diagnosis Question: Have you been diagnosed with a type of heart disease? If so, what was the diagnosis and treatment.
Heart Disease - Risk Factors Question: What are/were your risk factors for developing heart disease?
Heart Disease - Symptoms Question: Describe the symptoms associated with your heart disease.
Heart Disease - Tests Question: Please describe the exams and tests you received that led to a diagnosis of heart disease.
Heart Disease - Prevention Question: If you have or are at risk for heart disease, how do you try to prevent a heart attack?
Heart Disease - Medications Question: What medications and/or supplements do you take to prevent heart disease?
Heart Disease - Angioplasty Question: Please share your experience with angioplasty, stenting, or heart surgery.

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