Less common symptoms include a fast heartbeat, feeling sick
to your stomach, and increased sweating. Some people don't have any symptoms.
In rare cases, a person can have a "silent" heart attack, without
To find out your risk for a heart attack in the next 10
years, use this
Interactive Tool: Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack?
How is coronary artery disease diagnosed?
To diagnose coronary artery disease, doctors
start by doing a physical exam and asking questions about your past health and
your risk factors. Risk factors are things that increase the chance that you
will have coronary artery disease.
Some common risk factors are
being older than 65; smoking; having high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or
diabetes; and having heart disease in your family. The more risk factors you
have, the more likely it is that you have coronary artery disease.
If your doctor thinks that you have coronary artery disease, you may have
tests, such as:
- Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), which checks for problems with
the electrical activity of your heart. An EKG can also show signs of an old or
new heart attack.
- Chest X-ray.
- Blood tests.
- Exercise electrocardiogram, commonly called a "stress test."
This test checks for changes in your heart while you exercise.
Your doctor may order other tests to look at blood flow to
your heart. You may have a
coronary angiogram if your doctor is considering a
procedure to remove blockages, such as angioplasty or bypass surgery.
How is it treated?
on taking steps to manage your symptoms and reduce your risk for heart attack
and stroke. Some risk factors you can't control, such as your age and
family history. Other risk factors you can control,
such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Lifestyle changes
can help lower your risks. You may also need to take medicines or have a
procedure to open your arteries.
Lifestyle changes are the first step for anyone with coronary artery disease.
These changes may stop or even reverse coronary artery disease. To improve your
- Don't smoke. This may be the most important thing you can do.
Quitting smoking can quickly reduce the risk of heart attack or death.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet that includes plenty of fish, fruits,
vegetables, beans, high-fiber grains and breads, and olive oil. See a dietitian
if you need help making better food choices.
- Get regular exercise on most, if not all, days of the week. Your
doctor can suggest a safe level of exercise for you. Walking is great exercise
that most people can do. A good goal is 30 minutes or more a day.
- Lower your stress level. Stress can hurt your heart.
- Limit alcohol to 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men.