Narrowing or blockage of the arteries is known as Coronary Artery Disease or CAD. Blockage occurs due to the buildup of cholesterol or plaque on the inner surface of the arteries. This course is slow, happens over a period while the deposits harden over time.
What Are the Repercussions of Blockage of The Coronary Arteries?
If the blockage becomes severe, the person starts feeling pain and discomfort in the chest. There may also be regulating pain in the arm or left shoulder. These are the primary heart attack symptoms that should never be ignored. Sudden progression of the blockage leads to a heart attack and any delay in the treatment can be life-threatening.
Why Does CAD Occur?
Cardiovascular diseases are a major cause of deaths around the world. Various documented risk factors predispose an individual to CAD. These risks include family history, hypertension, dyslipidemia (abnormal blood cholesterol level), long-standing diabetes, a stressful lifestyle and smoking. With a high number of risk factors, the likelihood of developing Coronary Artery Disease increases.
What is Primary and Secondary Prevention of CAD?
Primary prevention means preventing the condition even before it occurs, and secondary prevention means averting additional attacks of any cardiovascular disease after the first attack has occurred.
Who are the Right Candidates for Primary Prevention?
Family history plays an important role in deciding the candidature for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Physical examinations are followed by lab tests that help the doctor analyse the condition. The combined result of all the tests helps the doctor to decide if someone is a candidate for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease or not.
Primary Prevention would require:
- Exercise – The effect of exercising on CVD is no different than on the majority of other health conditions. Primary prevention candidates are recommended 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. An increase in physical activity significantly reduces the risk of CVD.
- Balanced Diet – Diet plays an equally important role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Doctors recommended a diet that is high in vegetables, whole grains, fruits and low saturated fats and sugars.
- Smoking – Considered as a major risk factor, smoking doubles the mortality rate in patients with cardiovascular disease and causes other health complications as well. Quitting smoking is the single most cost-effective intrusion in CVD prevention.
- Body Weight – Being overweight and having a BMI > 25 is another major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Doctors always advise maintaining a healthy body weight to primary prevention candidates.
- Lipid-Lowering Therapy – This therapy is used to improve the lipid levels and has been used in primary prevention of cardiovascular disease since long. In this therapy, any elevation in cholesterol level is treated with statins.
- Anti-Hypertensive Therapies – Hypertension or high blood pressure acts as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease and also acts in synergy with other risk factors. Anti-Hypertensive Therapies keep the condition in check and lead to a significant reduction in CVD events.
What Is Done in Secondary Prevention?
Secondary prevention includes:
- Prevention of a second occurrence of Coronary Artery Disease (e.g., after a first occurrence of acute coronary syndrome or a first heart attack).
- Prevention of a second occurrence of Coronary Artery Disease after surgical procedures are implied to treat the condition.
- In both cases, the methods of primary preventions listed above also play a major role in keeping the patient healthy and away from further complications. Also, the combination of primary and secondary prevention averts the second occurrence of coronary artery disease.