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Coronary Artery Disease and Heart Attacks

Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease and the No. 1 killer of Americans. If you have coronary artery disease, your heart muscle does not get enough blood. This can lead to serious problems, including a heart attack.

What causes coronary artery disease?

This disease is caused by altherosclerosis, or “hardening of the arteries.” When plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, the heart may not get the blood it needs to work well.

Risk factors for the disease include:

  • Age (being older than 65)
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes or pre-diabetes
  • A family history of heart disease

What are the symptoms of coronary artery disease?

Common symptoms can include:

  • Chest pain, discomfort or a strange feeling in the chest (angina)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart attack

Less common symptoms can include:

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Feeling nauseated
  • Increased sweating

What tests may be used to diagnose coronary artery disease?

If your doctor thinks that you have coronary artery disease, you may have tests to check how well your heart is working. These tests can include an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), a chest X-ray, an exercise electrocardiogram, blood tests or a coronary angiogram.

What causes a heart attack?

Heart attacks are caused when a blood vessel that supplies the heart, called the coronary artery, is blocked. Coronary artery disease often leads to heart attacks (also known as myocardial infarctions).

What treatments are available?

The MU Heart and Vascular Center offers comprehensive treatment for prevention, treatment and recovery for patients with heart disease or who have had a heart attack. To provide our patients with the best care based on medical evidence, we follow treatments that have been shown by research to save and improve lives. Your health care team can help you determine which treatments are best for you.

Patients who require an interventional procedure (cardiac catheterization) cardiothoracic surgery (heart surgery or heart and lung surgery) or vascular surgery are in good hands and undergo procedures in state-of-the-art facilities. University Hospital’s hybrid operating room combines the functions of a catheterization lab with the surgical functions of an operating room, allowing surgeons and cardiologists to perform both open and minimally invasive procedures in the same room.

If you have had chest pain, a heart attack, open heart surgery, coronary angioplasty or stents, heart valve replacement, heart transplant, congestive heart failure or peripheral arterial disease, you may benefit from cardiac rehabilitation. MU Health Care’s program includes monitored exercise and education to help you manage your health problems and improve your wellness.

Contact Us

For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, please contact Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine at 573-88-HEART or 573-884-3278.

Schedule an Appointment

To schedule an appointment, contact:

Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine:

Cardiothoracic Surgery: 

Vascular Surgery: 

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