Coronary artery disease involves buildup of fatty deposits or plaque on the interior of the coronary arteries. As a person ages, these deposits may thicken and cause the arteries to narrow, reducing the amount of blood that can flow through the arteries to the heart. Patients may suffer a heart attack if the artery is completely blocked or if a blood clot forms inside the narrowed coronary artery. Coronary artery disease affects nearly 13 million Americans and is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.
There are a number of approaches to coronary artery disease treatment. The initial line of treatment is often to modify the behaviors and conditions that increase the risks for coronary artery disease: smoking, poor dietary habits, lack of exercise, elevated blood glucose levels and elevated blood pressure. Depending on age, health and medical history of patient, physicians may recommend a number of other disease treatment options:
Medications to prevent the buildup of additional plaque, to thin the blood, to reduce cholesterol levels in the artery, and to lower blood pressure.
Catheter-based treatments like coronary angioplasty, where a small balloon is inflated inside the artery to compress the plaque and increase blood flow. A variety of stents may be deployed to ensure the artery remains open. Physicians may also recommend an atherectomy, another catheter-based procedure where the blocked area inside the artery is cut away.
Surgery to bypass the blocked artery (coronary artery bypass graft surgery, or CABG surgery), to strip the inner walls of the coronary arteries of the fatty deposits (coronary endarterectomy), and to create new channels or vessels within the heart where blood can flow freely (transmyocardial revascularization).
When considering coronary disease surgery such as percutaneous coronary intervention or other procedures for coronary artery disease treatment, quality of care matters a great deal. Patients will find the most advanced treatment options and state-of-the-art care at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, one of the top providers of cardiovascular treatment in America.
Marc Sabatine, M.D., M.P.H, Cardiologist and Chair of the TIMI Study Group at Brigham and Women's Hospital, answers patients' most commonly searched questions about coronary artery disease.
Coronary artery disease treatment at Brigham and Women's Hospital
Brigham and Women's Hospital has a long history of pioneering coronary artery disease treatment. Today the Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital is the most advanced facility of its kind in the region, providing comprehensive and compassionate care to patients requiring coronary disease treatment as well as peripheral artery disease treatment. Each patient at the Center is treated by a team of surgeons, anesthesiologists, radiologists, and cardiovascular nurses as well as other healthcare professionals who collaborate closely to offer patients the most advanced level of care.