TV Spot: "About Coronary Artery Disease " by Dr. Will Wharton

William Wharton, III, MD is a cardiologist at Asheville Cardiology Associates in Asheville, NC. He completed his premedical education in Biology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He obtained a medical degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine. He completed his Internship and Residency at Letterman Army Medical Center and his Cardiology Fellowship at the Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Wharton is board certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Diseases and a member of the American College of Cardiology and the American College of Physicians and is an active member and current president of the Buncombe County Medical Society.

Coronary Artery Disease Tip Sheet for WNC/BCMS

Click here to download the PDF file or read the contents below.

What is Coronary Artery Disease?

  • Coronary Artery Disease (known as CAD) is the build up of fatty deposits (called atherosclerosis) along the inner lining of the arteries which supply blood to the heart.
  • Fatty deposits can cause closure of the blood vessels over time leading to chest pain or a heart attack.

How is CAD diagnosed?

  • CAD is diagnosed by looking at risk factors including:
    • a family history of heart attack, especially if the heart attack was at a young age;
    • smoking;
    • high blood pressure;
    • diabetes;
    • advanced age.
  • If a heart attack has occurred CAD is usually diagnosed by a procedure called a coronary angiogram or cardiac catheterization.
  • In the absence of a heart attack, CAD can be diagnosed by assessing blood flow to the heart using a stress test. This is usually done using exercise or medicine to stimulate the heart and assessing the heart function by either measuring blood flow in what is called a nuclear stress test or hear muscle function in what is called a stress echo.

What are the symptoms of CAD?

  • Symptoms of CAD often occur after many years of buildup of the fatty deposits.
  • When symptoms do occur they include chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath, the sudden onset of nausea and sweating or even heart rhythm problems.
  • Classic symptoms include tightness or squeezing in the middle of the chest, often spreading to the neck or jaw, sometimes accompanied by shortness of breath or sweating. When this comes on suddenly it may be a heart attack!

If diagnosed, how is CAD treated?

  • In most cases CAD is treated with medicines to reduce inflammation in the fatty deposit such as cholesterol drugs, aspirin and plavix.
  • Medications can be used to improve blood flow to the heart muscles such as nitroglycerine- like drugs and blood pressure medicines.
  • When blockages become severe blood flow can be improved by opening the vessel with a strut (stent) or by bypassing the blockage entirely with bypass surgery.

This information is not intended to diagnose or to take the place of medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. WNC/BCMS does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.

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