• Chest pain, arm tingling, shortness of breath, being more tired and fatigued with usual activities - all may be signs that blood flow to your heart is becoming restricted or blocked.  

    The cause may be a build-up of fatty deposits, or plaque (pronounced "plak"), inside your arteries - the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from the heart to your body.  When arteries become partly or completely blocked with plaque, atherosclerosis (pronounced ath-ERO-skla-RO-sis) occurs.  It may be called hardening of the arteries.

    When plaque builds up in arteries, it narrows the channel through which blood flows.  When blood flow is restricted or completely blocked, the oxygen and nutrients your muscles and organs need to function are also restricted.  And when muscles or the heart that are deprived of oxygen are placed under additional stress, such as during exertion, you may feel discomfort.  

    So when you feel chest pain or discomfort, which your doctor may call angina or angina pectoris, it may be because the heart muscle is not receiving sufficient blood flow.  

    Your doctor may describe your chest pain as "Unstable" or "stable" angina.  

    Unstable Angina

    With unstable angina, also referred to as Acute Coronary Syndrome, chest pain and other symptoms of cardiovascular disease are worsening, becoming more frequent or occurring with less exertion.

    If this is your situation, your doctor may adjust drug therapy to stabilize symptoms or may pursue other forms of testing and monitoring.

    Depending on the ongoing evaluation, you may be sent to the catheterization lab for a heart catheterization and ultimately an angioplasty and/or a stent, procedures to open blockages in your arteries. Alternatively, if the blockages are more extensive or severe, you may be referred to a surgeon for coronary artery bypass surgery.

    Stable Angina

    With stable angina, you have "predictable" symptoms - symptoms to which you have become accustomed. When you engage in physical activity at various levels of intensity, you have come to expect shortness of breath (more common in women than men), chest pressure, neck, jaw or shoulder pain. When you stop the activity, symptoms also cease.

    If you have stable angina, your care team will:

    • Ask you questions and listen carefully to your answers to understand your:
      • Medical history
      • Current symptoms and other current health conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension.
  • Heart and Vascular Disease

    Who is Affected by Cardiovascular Disease?

    The good news is that the U.S. death rate from cardiovascular disease – disease caused by the build-up of plaque in the body’s arteries that blocks blood flow to the heart, brain, other vital organs and muscles – declined by about 25 percent between 1994 and 2004, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

    Heart Attack Warning Signs in Women

    When a heart attack strikes, seconds count for everyone, regardless of gender, age, or ethnicity. Any delay in treating your heart attack increases your chances of permanent, irreparable damage to your heart—and, it could cost you your life.

    SecondsCount Heart Attack Survival Guide

    Know the symptoms of heart attack and take them seriously. Here’s a key thing to remember about a common misconception: Not all people with heart attacks experience chest pain. Be on the alert for all of the symptoms of heart attack. Learn them here.
  • Tests and Diagnostics

    Angiogram

    An angiogram is a diagnostic procedure that provides detailed, x-ray pictures of your heart and its blood vessels. It is performed by a specially trained cardiologist, called an interventional cardiologist.
  • Betty - Achieving a High Quality of Life at Any Age

    Betty didn’t realize the full extent of her heart disease symptoms, or how they were impacting her life, until after she was treated. Like many people with stable angina, she had curtailed her participation in activities she loved – like gardening and golfing – in order to avoid the uncomfortable symptoms that plagued her when she did them. To learn what led her to treatment, and how much she’s enjoying life now, read her story.

    Dolf Bachmann - World’s First Angioplasty Patient Now 68 Years Old and “Happy All Around”

    On Sept. 16, 1977, Dolf Bachmann, then 38 years old, became the first patient to undergo balloon angioplasty. Now 68 years old, Bachmann describes himself “in excellent condition, free of complications and happy all around.” Watch as he recalls his experience as the first angioplasty patient and the remarkable role he played in the development of a procedure that has saved many lives and improved quality of life for many more.

    Jack Blatherwick - Sudden Angina Signals Serious Heart Condition

    All of a sudden, Jack Blatherwick couldn’t take 50 steps into his four-mile daily walk without extreme chest pain. With a Ph.D. in physiology and a career overseeing the conditioning of professional and Olympic ice hockey players, Jack, 65, recognized his symptoms as angina – the chest pain that occurs when arteries to the heart are blocked and the heart is starved for oxygen. Read more about how Jack got treated and got back to his active lifestyle.

    Jack Hatley - Young Heart Attack Survivor Overcomes Stressful Recovery

    One of the last things on Jack Hatley’s mind the day after he turned 37 years old was heart disease. Fortunately, when he began experiencing the heart attack, he knew to seek help. The stents he received saved his life, but they were just the first step in his recovery. To learn how he made a full recovery - both physically and emotionally - and where he found help, read his story.

    John McLaughlin - A Patient’s Heart for Adventure: Procedure Helps Continue an Annual Tradition

    If it weren’t for the treatment John McLaughlin received to open a blocked heart artery, he might have had to put his annual king salmon fishing trips to Alaska on hold, along with many other daily activities that can be difficult to perform when suffering the symptoms of heart disease. Read more about the symptoms John was experiencing and the treatment that got him back to hiking, fishing, working, and the other things he loves.