By: Steven Nissen, MD
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Has your doctor told you have minor blockages in your coronary arteries? If you’ve had a heart catheterization for blockages your doctor determined are too minor to require a stent or bypass surgery, it’s still important not to ignore chest pain.
In a recent study, researchers at the Veterans Administration’s Eastern Colorado Health Care System studied 38,000 patients, including those who had undergone a heart catheterization for relatively minor coronary artery blockages.
Some of these patients had what’s called non-obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD), which means they experienced chest pain despite a lack of blockages.
According to the findings, these patients were still at a significantly increased risk of having a heart attack or dying within a year compared to people who showed no signs. In fact, they had anywhere from a two-to four-fold increased risk of a heart attack or death.
This is why chest pain is a red flag symptom that should prompt a call to 9-1-1, even if you have minor blockages. You want to be sure to get prompt medical treatment.
Preventive strategies important
It’s important to work closely with your doctor to address any kind of buildup in your arteries – even if it’s just at the start of some plaque and not considered significant or obstructive.
Look at all your health numbers carefully – especially those that are borderline – and talk to your doctor about them.
Even if your cholesterol is within the healthy range, if it is on the low end, you may want to be proactive in improving it.
If you have borderline high blood pressure, you want to address it before it becomes an issue – especially with exercise and dietary changes. If you have pre-diabetes or diabetes, you want to lower all your risk factors for heart disease.
Be proactive about your heart health, and pay attention to your symptoms, even if you have minor blockages.