By Briana Davis, Clinical Trials of Texas, Inc.
SAN ANTONIO – Coronary heart disease
is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. It is a serious condition characterized by a narrowing of the major blood vessels that supply blood, oxygen and nutrients to the heart. It is estimated that half a million people in the U.S. will die from coronary heart disease this year.
Coronary heart disease begins as early as childhood, developing slowly over decades as fatty material, calcium and cholesterol-containing deposits (plaques) grow in the coronary arteries until blood flow to the heart’s muscle is limited. While the exact cause of coronary heart disease still generates a lot of debate, probable causes have been identified to include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Family history, age, obesity, physical inactivity and high stress can also contribute to your risk of coronary heart disease.
Unfortunately, coronary heart disease
does not always present obvious symptoms and may go unnoticed for years, only becoming apparent after it produces a heart attack. Symptoms may include angina (chest pain) that is triggered during instances of emotional or physical stress, shortness of breath during exertion, heart palpitations (rapid heartbeat), irregular heartbeat, and jaw, back or arm pain on the left side during physical activity or at rest. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your physician right away.
During your exam, your physician will discuss medical history, current symptoms and risk factors. In order to diagnose coronary heart disease a physical will need to be performed along with other diagnostic tests such as an ECG or an exercise stress test.
Following a diagnosis of coronary heart disease
, your physician is likely to encourage you to implement lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating a heart healthy diet and initiating an exercise program. He or she may also prescribe one or more medications for you to take to help you reduce your cholesterol levels, blood pressure or existing symptoms such as chest pain. Your physician may also recommend that you take an aspirin every day to reduce your risk of having a heart attack.
If left untreated, coronary heart disease can significantly weaken your heart’s pumping ability, resulting in a multitude of life threatening conditions such as heart attack, heart failure or arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm). Your risk of other arterial diseases such as a stroke and/or peripheral vascular disease (also known as intermittent claudication) is also increased with untreated coronary heart disease.
Coronary heart disease is a preventable condition. Lifestyle changes that incorporate a healthy diet and exercise plan, along with effective weight management, can significantly reduce your risk for the disease. If you are concerned about your risk of coronary heart disease, you may want to speak with your doctor about taking a low dose aspirin every day, as well as increasing your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin supplements such as vitamin E, which may reduce your risk of having a heart attack.
Clinical Trials of Texas, Inc. is currently conducting a research study for men and women 40 to 80 years of age who have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease. If you would like to learn more about our study regarding coronary heart disease, please call us at 210-949-0122 or visit us at SAresearch.com
. A stipend to cover the cost of time and travel is being offered to study participants.