UMMC coronary artery patient with a nurse

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is partial or total blockage of the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. CAD is the most common type of heart disease and can lead to a heart attack and other conditions.

Although CAD is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S., it is very treatable.

University of Maryland Heart and Vascular Center coronary artery disease specialists will work with you on lifestyle changes and develop a treatment plan that may reverse coronary artery disease.

If surgery is needed, our heart bypass surgery team are experts in the latest surgical techniques, including minimally invasive options.

To make an appointment or to learn more about our program, please call 410-328-7877.

Telemedicine Services

The UM Heart and Vascular Center team is still seeing patients with urgent or emergent conditions. If you feel any sort of chest pain or symptoms of a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Do not drive yourself to the hospital.

For all non-urgent medical concerns, virtual appointments are now available for coronary artery disease services. We strongly encourage patients to schedule video and/or phone consults for appointments.

Please call 410-328-7877 to find out if telehealth is available for your next visit.

Coronary Artery Disease Causes

CAD usually results from the buildup of plaque, made up of cholesterol and other fatty material. This buildup is called atherosclerosis.

The buildup prevents the heart muscle from getting the blood and oxygen it needs, leading to chest pain or a heart attack. Over time, CAD can weaken the heart muscle and contribute to heart failure and arrhythmias.

Coronary Artery Disease Risk Factors

Risk factors include a family history of coronary artery disease, stroke or peripheral arterial disease, especially before age 50 in men or age 60 in women. Other risk factors are:

  • Race or ethnicity – African-American, Caucasian, South Asian
  • Tobacco smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Lack of physical activity or exercise
  • Obesity

You can't control risk factors such as your sex or ethnicity. To help prevent CAD, focus on the risk factors you can control. For example, quit smoking or don't start, and make sure you get enough exercise.

Coronary Artery Disease Symptoms

Less than half of all men and women with CAD have any warning signs. Common symptoms include:

  • Chest pain (angina) – The most common symptom, you may feel a heavy or squeezing feeling (typical) or a fleeting or sharp pain (not typical).
  • Shortness of breath – Happens because the heart is weak from long-term lack of blood and oxygen, or sometimes from a past or recent heart attack.
  • Heart attack Sometimes the first symptom of CAD is a heart attack from plaque or a blood clot blocking the coronary artery's blood flow to the heart.

If you feel these or any unusual symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Coronary Artery Disease Diagnosis

Your heart specialist will review your health and family history, check your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Our team uses the latest imaging technology to diagnose heart conditions. Tests we may use include:

  • Echocardiogram – Uses sound waves to make images
  • EKG – Measures your heart's electrical activity and heart rate
  • Coronary CT Angiography – Uses CT and contrast dye to make 3D images of the heart arteries
  • X-ray – A painless, noninvasive test using radiation to make images

Coronary Artery Disease Treatment

Heart specialists at the University of Maryland Heart and Vascular Center offer the latest medical and surgical treatment for CAD. We evaluate each patient individually and will find the best treatment plan for you. This may include:

Medical Management

Your treatment may include medications with lifestyle modifications such as dietary management, quitting smoking, exercise and cholesterol management.

Catheter-Based Options

Catheters are thin tubes inserted through a vein, guided to a specific area of the heart to deliver medications or to perform procedures. Catheter-based options include:

  • Angioplasty and stenting procedures – Angioplasty improves blood flow to the heart and extremities. A stent is a small, wire-mesh tube permanently inserted in a narrowed artery to expand and open it. Learn more about angioplasty and stenting.
  • Coronary atherectomy – Removes plaque from arteries
  • Brachytherapy – Radiation therapy to treat recurring arterial narrowing (restenosis)

Heart Bypass Surgery

Our experienced cardiac surgeons have the expertise and resources to offer comprehensive, advanced coronary procedures. We make sure you have treatment most suited to your needs and condition to ensure you have the best outcome possible.

Our expertise was recognized by U.S. News & World Report, which rated UMMC as a high-performing hospital in heart bypass surgery

Learn more about heart bypass surgery.

Make an Appointment

If your family has a history of coronary artery disease or you believe you're at risk, we want to help. Make an appointment with one of our heart specialists by calling 410-328-7877.

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