Living with coronary artery disease
When you have coronary artery disease, it is important to take care of your heart. This is especially true if you have had an interventional procedure or surgery to improve blood flow to the heart. Procedures do not cure coronary artery disease. It is up to you to take steps to stop the disease from progressing. By learning more about your disease, making appropriate lifestyle changes and following your treatment plan, you can live a longer, fuller life. Remember - you play the major role in managing your heart disease. Your treatment plan includes:
1. Know the symptoms for coronary artery disease
The symptoms for coronary artery disease include:
- Chest discomfort (described as heaviness, tightness, pressure, aching, burning, numbness, fullness, or squeezing). It can be mistaken for indigestion or heartburn. Angina is usually felt in the chest, but may also be felt in the left shoulder, arms, neck, back or jaw.
- Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body including the arms, left shoulder, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Sweating or “cold sweat”
- Fullness, indigestion, or choking feeling (may feel like “heartburn”)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Light-headedness, dizziness, extreme weakness or anxiety
- Rapid or irregular heart beats
Call your doctor if symptoms become more frequent or severe.
Call for emergency assistance if rest and/or medications in do not relieve symptoms in 5 minutes. DO NOT WAIT.
- Learn more about the symptoms of coronary artery disease - be prepared.
2. Decrease your risk factors
The more risk factors you have and the longer they have been present, the greater risk you have for further coronary artery disease. It is up to you to make lifestyle changes to eliminate as many risk factors as possible to increase your chances of good health. Risk factors for cardiovascular health include:
- Smoking or the use of tobacco products
- High blood cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Being obese or overweight
- Uncontrolled stress or anger
- Diet high in transfats, saturated fats and cholesterol
Talk to your health care team about ways you can decrease your risk factors - or learn steps you can take to control cardiovascular risk factors
3. Take your medications
Symptoms of coronary artery disease can occur when the heart's demand for oxygen is greater than the supply of blood provided by your coronary arteries. Medications may be needed to help your heart work more efficiently. Medical management may vary greatly from person to person. Your doctor or nurse will discuss your personal treatment plan with you.
4. If necessary, have invasive procedures or surgery
Invasive procedures (such as angioplasty or stents) or coronary artery bypass surgery may be needed to treat your narrowed or blocked artery. These procedures increase blood supply to your heart but they are not a cure for coronary artery disease. You will still need to focus on reducing your risk factors to prevent or reduce future disease development. If these procedures are necessary, our cardiologist or surgeon will discuss the specific procedure that is right for you.
5. See your cardiologist for regular visits
Schedule regular appointments with your cardiologist (even if you have no symptoms). Your appointments may be spaced once a year, or more often, if your doctor feels you need to be followed more closely. Your appointments should include a medical exam and possibly, diagnostic tests. Your doctor will use the information gained from these visits to monitor the progress of your treatment. Check with your heart doctor to find out when to schedule your next appointment.
Call your doctor sooner if your symptoms worsen or become more severe or frequent.
Doctors vary in quality due to differences in training and experience; hospitals differ in the number of services available. The more complex your medical problem, the greater these differences in quality become and the more they matter.
Clearly, the doctor and hospital that you choose for complex, specialized medical care will have a direct impact on how well you do. To help you make this choice, please review our Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute Outcomes.
Cleveland Clinic Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute Cardiologists and Surgeons
Choosing a doctor to treat your coronary artery disease depends on where you are in your diagnosis and treatment. Click on the following links to learn more about Sections and Departments treat patients with Coronary Artery Disease:
- Cardiovascular Medicine
- Cardiothoracic Surgery Department
The Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute offers specialty centers and clinics for patients whose treatment requires the expertise of a group of doctors and surgeons who focus on a specific condition.
- Advanced Ischemic Heart Disease Center
- Preventive Cardiology Programs and Clinics
- Women’s Cardiovascular Center
See: About Us to learn more about the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute.
If you need more information, click here to contact us, chat online with a nurse or call the Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute Resource & Information Nurse at 216.445.9288 or toll-free at 866.289.6911. We would be happy to help you.
Becoming a Patient
Diagnostic tests are used to diagnose coronary artery disease and the most effective treatment method.
Our webchats and video chats give patients and visitors another opportunity to ask questions and interact with our physicians.
- Coronary Artery Disease webchats and video chats
- All Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute webchats
- Coronary Artery Disease and Treatments Videos
- All Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute Videos
Additional information and resources
- Recovery at Home
- Support Groups and Information
- Visit Health Essentials - Read articles on coronary artery disease and healthy living on Health Essentials*
- Follow Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute webchats and news stories on Twitter*
- Subscribe to Heart, Vascular & Thoracic eNews*
- American Heart Association*
- Tips to help you sleep after heart surgery
- Guided imagery and heart surgery
- Herbals and heart surgery
*A new browser window will open with this link. The inclusion of links to other websites does not imply any endorsement of the material on those websites nor any association with their operators.
Why choose Cleveland Clinic for your care?
Our outcomes speak for themselves. Please review our facts and figures and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.