At Bhat Internal Medicine, our patients’ health and wellbeing is our top priority. Drs. Muralikrishna and Sheela Bhat have more than 25 year of experience in internal medicine and will provide you with the best care possible.

What is coronary artery disease?

Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease in the world, and it is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States.

Coronary artery disease occurs when blood-supplying arteries in the heart muscle become hardened and narrowed due to plaque buildup. Plaque is made up of cholesterol and other material in the bloodstream. It can create a buildup known as atherosclerosis. As the buildup increases over time, blood has a difficult time flowing through the affected arteries. When the heart is unable to receive the blood it needs to function, it can lead to chest pains known as angina or a heart attack. Most heart attacks occur when blood clots cut off the blood supply to the heart, resulting in permanent damage.

Coronary artery disease can also weaken the heart muscle over time, contributing to heart failure and arrhythmias, which are changes to the normal beating rhythm of the heart.

Causes and symptoms

Coronary artery disease is caused due to cholesterol and other fatty deposits building up in the arteries over time, sometimes occurring as early as childhood. While some plaque buildup is unavoidable, there are a number of factors that are believed to contribute to excess plaque buildup. These factors include:

  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Poor dietary choices
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Chest radiation therapy
  • Sedentary lifestyle

These factors may contribute to an increase in plaque buildup in the arteries and exacerbate existing buildup.

Angina is the most common symptom associated with coronary artery disease. Angina is commonly described as a feeling of heaviness, pressure, burning or numbness on the chest. Mild cases of angina are often mistaken for heartburn or indigestion. While pain and discomfort from angina is most commonly felt in the chest, it may also occur in the left shoulder, arms, neck, back or jaw.

Coronary artery disease may also be indicated by a host of other symptoms such as:

  • Feeling increased or irregular heartbeats
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Nausea

Diagnosis and Treatment

There are a number of different ways your doctor can successfully diagnose coronary artery disease. First, your doctor will discuss your symptoms, and ask about your medical history and risk factors. A physical exam and diagnostic tests will help us determine if you have coronary artery disease, as well as how far the disease has progressed. These diagnostic tests may include an electrocardiogram (ECG), exercise stress tests, CT scans or cardiac catheterization.

Treatment for coronary artery disease usually involves a combination of lifestyle changes and medications. Changes that can help include quitting smoking, adopting a diet low in trans fat and sodium, and exercise. In severe cases, surgical procedures like a balloon angioplasty may be required.

If you feel you are at risk for coronary artery disease, contact Bhat Internal Medicine at 520-290-9151 to schedule an appointment. Drs. Muralikrishna and Sheela Bhat are experienced in diagnosing and treating coronary artery disease, and will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is right for you.

Our office accepts most major insurance plans.