Coronary artery disease (CAD) is by far the most common cardiovascular problem.
You may have heard of the term atherosclerosis, which refers to the buildup of plaque in the blood vessels. Essentially, coronary artery disease is a form of atherosclerosis that affects the arteries leading to the heart. As plaque in the coronary arteries builds up and blockages grow, the level of oxygen and nutrients provided to the heart decreases, limiting the heart’s effectiveness. Should an artery become blocked completely—due to plaque buildup or the inability of a clot to pass through the narrowed opening—a heart attack results.
Informing a patient that he or she has coronary artery disease is never pleasant for me. But what the patient says to me in the next few minutes can make all the difference in that individual’s course of recovery. In over 35 years of practice, I have found that the single most important question that can come from a patient is: “Dr. Sinatra, what can I do to help myself?”
I tell them that, in almost every case, coronary artery disease is a story about an unhealthy lifestyle. I probably don’t have to remind you traditional heart risk factors can predispose you to it, including:
- cigarette smoking,
- high blood pressure levels,
- physical inactivity,
- unhealthy cholesterol levels, and
- emotional stress.
Research has clearly demonstrated that the more heart risk factors you have, the greater your chances of developing serious coronary artery disease.
I challenge my patients, as I’m challenging you now, to become proactive and do what it takes to reduce your heart risk factors and take control of your health. You must realize that all of the advice, medicine, and technology in the world won’t help you if you continue to abuse your body and live an unhealthy lifestyle.
For more information on coronary artery disease or other cardiovascular problems, visit www.drsinatra.com.