It's the news you don't want to hear from your cardiologist: One or more of your coronary arteries -- the blood vessels that supply blood to your heart -- is blocked. You have coronary artery disease, the No. 1 killer of U.S. adults.
So does this mean you're headed for bypass surgery? Maybe not, if your situation isn't an emergency.
You might have other options -- including less drastic procedures to reopen those arteries, medication alone, or even radical lifestyle change.
What's your best option?...
Calcium-channel blocker -- A drug that lowers blood pressure and may slow heart rate to control chest pain. The drug works by blocking the uptake of calcium in the cells.
Cardiac Catheterization (angiogram) -- A test used to diagnose heart disease. During the procedure a catheter is inserted into an artery, usually in the leg, wrist, or arm, and contrast dye is injected into the arteries and heart. X-rays of the arteries and heart are taken.
Catheter -- A slender, hollow, flexible tube.
Coronary artery disease -- A buildup of fatty material in the wall of the coronary artery that causes narrowing of the artery.
Dyspnea -- Shortness of breath.
Electrocardiogram(ECG, EKG) -- The EKG records on graph paper the electrical activity of the heart detected through small electrode patches attached to the skin.
Heart attack (myocardial infarction) -- Permanent damage to the heart muscle caused by a lack of blood supply to the heart for an extended time period. The severity of damage varies from mild to severe.
Heart-lung (cardiopulmonary) bypass machine -- A machine that oxygenates the blood and circulates it throughout the body during heart bypass surgery.
Heart surgery -- Heart surgery is any surgery that involves the heart or heart valves.
Ischemia-- Condition in which not enough oxygen-rich blood is supplied to the heart muscle to meet the heart's needs.
Off-pump heart surgery -- Heart surgery done without the use of the cardiopulmonary bypass machine.
Plaque -- Deposits of fats, inflammatory cells, proteins, and calcium along the lining of arteries, caused by atherosclerosis. The plaque builds up and narrows the artery.