Coronary Artery Disease - Catholic Medical Partners

Important information…from your Doctor at ________________
Coronary Artery Disease...what you should know…
Coronary Artery Disease refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels
that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. When you learned that you have
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), you probably realized you are at increased risk of a heart
attack, but what else do you know? Do you know the warning signs of a heart attack? Do you
know what you can do to reduce your risk factors? Heart disease is the #1 killer of men and
women in the United States and also the world. You should know as much as you can about
CAD, and what you can do to minimize your risk of a heart attack or other serious
Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense – like you see in the movies. Most heart attacks,
however, start slowly - with mild pain or discomfort. Often people aren’t sure if anything is
really wrong, and wait too long before getting help. You should learn these signs that can
mean a heart attack is happening, and act QUICKLY if you experience any of them. You should
pay attention …… minutes matter!!
 Chest Discomfort – Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that
lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like
uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. (This is the most common
 Discomfort in other parts of the body – Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the
back, jaw or stomach.
 Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
 Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or feeling lightheaded.
Note: Women are more likely than men to experience less typical symptoms, such as
shortness of breath, jaw or back pain, or nausea/vomiting.
Risk Factors that can lead to a Heart Attack
There are many risk factors that can affect the severity of Coronary Artery Disease. Some, such as heredity,
you can’t control, but others you can. Risk factors include: High Blood Pressure, Obesity, Smoking,
Diabetes, High Cholesterol, Physical Inactivity, and Stress. By minimizing the number of risk factors you
have, you can SIGNIFICANTLY lower your chances of having a heart attack.
What YOU can do to control your Risk Factors…
 Take any medications as prescribed – If your doctor has prescribed any medications
to control Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Cholesterol, etc., make sure to take them as
prescribed. Also, get all lab tests as recommended to help monitor results and
 Eat healthier – A healthy diet is one of the best weapons you have to fight
cardiovascular disease. The food you eat (and the amount) affects several controllable
risk factors – cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. There are nutrition
classes and counselors available throughout the community to help.
 Monitor Yourself - If you have high Blood Pressure, Obesity, or Diabetes, check your
blood pressure, glucose levels or weight as recommended. Keep a log of the results for
yourself and show to your doctor. This will help you know if you are at or near your
goal(s) and alert your doctor if you might need any medication adjustments. Also, know
your goals and strive for them: Blood Pressure: <130/80; Body Mass Index (BMI): <30;
Cholesterol: LDL<100, HDL >40 , ; for diabetics - HgbA1c <7%.
 Quit Smoking – You probably already know that smoking is associated with an
increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and stroke. The risk of developing CAD
is 2-4 times higher in smokers than in nonsmokers. Resources to help quit include
medications, classes, counselors and the NYS Smoker’s Quitline (1-866-697-8487). It
may take several attempts, but remember…it’s never too late to quit!
 Exercise – Physical activity can help control blood cholesterol, diabetes, blood
pressure, and obesity. The more vigorous the activity, the greater the benefits. However,
even moderate activity, such as walking, can help if done regularly. Numerous resources
and trainers are available throughout the community, and walking is free! Experts
recommend the equivalent of at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times per
week. However, ANY increase in your current level of activity will be beneficial.
Talk to your provider about what you can do to
reduce your risk factors. Even small changes
can make a real difference! We are available to
help – but it’s up to YOU!