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An Overview of Heart Disease

Clip Number: 16 of 41
Presentation: Common Heart Conditions, Tests, and Procedures
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Reviewed By: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Coronary heart disease is when the arteries that carry blood to the heart become blocked with cells, cholesterol, and fatty deposits, called plaque. The purpose of the blood inside these vessels is to bring oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle. If an artery becomes narrowed or blocked, oxygen and nutrients cannot be delivered to areas of the heart tissue. This can cause temporary changes to these areas. If heart tissue goes too long without oxygen or nutrients, heart tissue can die. This is called a heart attack.
There are many tests available to look for coronary heart disease. The choice of which and how many tests to perform depends on your history of heart problems and current symptoms.
If coronary heart disease is diagnosed there are many ways to treat it.
These can include lifestyle changes such as daily exercise, chagnes in diet, and quitting smoking. Or you may need medication. However, medication can only help treat the symptoms of blocked coronary arteries, it cannot fix them.
In more severe cases of heart disease, surgery is needed to make a new path for blood, going around a narrowed or blocked vessel. This surgery is called coronary artery bypass graft.
During coronary artery bypass graft surgery a blood vessel is taken from somewhere else in the body and is used to bypass a damaged or blocked vessel in the heart. This improves the blood supply to the heart and in turn, improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle.

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