Coronary Artery Disease: What You Need to Know

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Coronary Artery Disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing nearly 380,000 people each year. So how can you tell when you have it, and what are the next steps in treatment?

Dr. David Spurlock, a cardiothoracic surgeon from Spectrum Health, says the symptoms of the disease includes chest pain, fatigue, palpitations, abnormal heart rhythms shortness of breath, and welling in the hands and feet.

Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery is a surgery that improves blood flow to the heart. This surgery is used to treat Coronary Artery Disease which occurs when the arteries become narrowed and less oxygen-rich blood is delivered to the heart muscle.

During the surgery, a healthy artery or vein from the body is connected to the blocked coronary artery. One end of the graft is attached above the blockage and the other is attached below the blockage.

Blood is routed around, or bypasses, the blockage by going through the new graft to reach the heart muscle. This creates a new path for blood to flow from the heart.

There may be bleeding during or after the surgery, and infections can develop at the incision site. Breathing problems, pneumonia, and abnormal heart rhythms can also occur.

After surgery, the hospital recovery time is typically one or two days in the ICU and three to five days in a less intensive care area. Generally patients can return to work 6 weeks after surgery. Full recovery will take 6 to 12 weeks.

If you have any of the symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease, contact your primary care physician and they can refer you to a specialist.

Spectrum Health has nearly 100 heart and vascular specialists right here in West Michigan that are available to assist patients 24/7.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Spurlock, call (616) 459-7258.

For information and treatment options for Coronary Artery Disease, call the Spectrum Health Heart and Vascular Care Center at (616) 391-1774.

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