Coronary artery calcification (CAC) typically causes no symptoms initially, as the condition develops over many years. When blood flow reaches a critically low level, symptoms such as shortness of breath with exertion and chest pain often occur.
People with CAC are at increased risk for a heart attack, heart failure and stroke. Treatment for CAC mirrors that for other forms of coronary artery disease. Lifestyle modifications, and medical and interventional treatments can relieve symptoms and prolong life.
Lifestyle modifications are important components of the treatment for coronary artery disease.
Stopping smoking and avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke is one of the most important steps you can take to reduce the risks that accompany CAC. According to a November 2013 article published in the European Heart Journal, stopping smoking reduces your risk of dying from heart disease or stroke by 36 percent in the first 2 years after you quit.
A diet planned with a dietitian or another qualified healthcare professional can help reduce blood cholesterol and lower blood pressure, key aspects of coronary heart disease treatment. The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology recommend a diet that limits salt, saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol while incorporating a rich array of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods.
Physical Activity and Weight Management
Regular physical activity and exercise can be useful for coronary artery disease treatment, although it's important to consult a healthcare professional before beginning an exercise program. Weight loss can be beneficial if you are overweight or obese. Even a modest amount of weight loss can help lower your risk of coronary artery disease complications.
Medical management refers to the use of medications to treat coronary artery disease. Aspirin is one of the most common medicines prescribed.
Other drugs, such as statins, are prescribed to lower total and bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in the body. If you have high blood pressure, various medications are used to lower the blood pressure. If symptoms are interfering with your daily activities, your doctor might prescribe nitrates to temporarily dilate the coronary arteries. Other medications such as beta blockers and calcium channel blockers can be used to decrease the amount of work the heart needs to do.