What Is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is a condition where plaque, a waxy substance in your blood vessels, builds up inside your coronary arteries. Plaque narrows the arteries, restricting the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart. If the plaque ruptures, it can cause dangerous blood clots and complete blockage of the arteries.
Some people don’t experience signs or symptoms of heart disease — that’s why it’s often called “the silent killer.” You may not be diagnosed until you have more severe symptoms, like those of a heart attack or irregular heartbeat. You may also experience symptoms such as:
- Chest pain (angina)
- Shortness of breath
- A numb, cold or weak feeling in your arms or legs
- Pain in your back, abdomen, throat, jaw or neck
Heart disease treatment
At CHI Franciscan, we take heart disease very seriously and will help you manage your health with individualized care. Together, we can help you recover through medication, lifestyle changes and, in some cases, surgery.
Your doctor will prescribe medications based on the type and severity of your heart disease. Medications can include drugs to dilate your blood vessels to relieve chest pain or those designed to lower your cholesterol or blood pressure levels.
Your doctor may recommend surgery to address heart disease and reduce your risk of heart attack or heart failure. Recommended procedures may include:
Angioplasty and stenting
Sometimes called a percutaneous coronary intervention, this is a minimally invasive surgery that can widen the blocked area your artery. A thin tube (catheter) is threaded into a blood vessel and guided into the blockage. A balloon on the end of the catheter is inflated to push the plaque against the walls of the artery. Then, a small tube called a stent is implanted to keep the passage open and help you regain a healthy blood flow.
Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG)
A blood vessel is taken from a donor site in your body to create a new pathway so your blood can flow around the blocked or narrowed artery. CABG is performed as open-heart surgery, so it may be reserved for people with more serious heart disease, such as those who have multiple blockages.
You can make a big difference in your heart health through managing your lifestyle and making smart choices. Here are some steps your doctor may recommend:
Eating a well-balanced diet low in saturated fats, added sugar and sodium can help manage many of the risk factors of heart disease, including excess body fat, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Drink only in moderation
Heavy drinking can damage your heart, potentially making your other risk factors worse. Men should have no more than two alcoholic drinks per day, while women should have no more than one a day.
Being inactive can make some risk factors worse, such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise, such as walking, paired with two or more days a week of muscle-strengthening activities.
Manage your stress
Stress can cause sudden, temporary spikes in blood pressure which can trigger serious cardiac events, such as heart attack.
Smoking can damage blood vessels, raise your blood pressure and lead to high cholesterol. We offer many resources to help you prevent heart disease and offer you support.
We’re here to help
What’s good for your heart is good for your overall health. Find a primary care doctor or cardiologist you can talk to about screening for heart disease, tips for prevention and lifestyle changes you can make to improve your health.
Your Heart Care Team
When Do You Need a Heart Specialist?
Your First Cardiology Visit
Recovering from Heart Surgery
Accepted Insurance Plans
Conditions We Treat
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
Arrhythmias and Atrial Fibrillation
Chest Pain (Angina)
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Heart Valve Disease
> Heart Disease
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Why Choose Us for Heart Care?
Heart Health: Prevention and Support