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Coronary Artery Disease

What is coronary artery disease?

Coronary artery disease (CAD) occurs when the heart can't get enough blood and oxygen. This is caused by atherosclerosis, a buildup of cholesterol and other material, called plaque, along the inner walls of the arteries.

Coronary artery disease is the most common cause of heart attack. Coronary artery disease is also known as ischemic heart disease.

Symptoms of coronary artery disease 

Coronary artery disease: what you should know

  • Risk factors for coronary artery disease include high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, lack of exercise and smoking.
  • Maintaining a lifestyle that’s healthy for your heart can help you prevent coronary artery disease:
    • Eat a healthy diet that helps you control cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure.
    • Exercise to reach a healthy weight and keep your cholesterol and blood pressure in check.
    • Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.

Care for coronary artery disease at Rush

Experts at Rush draw on their decades of experience to diagnose and treat coronary artery disease. We welcome patients seeking second opinions.

If you are diagnosed with coronary artery disease, you may need one or more of these treatments:

  • Changes to your diet
  • Statins (such as rosuvastatin or atorvastatin, brand names Crestor and Lipitor), which are cholesterol-lowering medications that improve blood flow even before the cholesterol goes down
  • Beta blockers, which are medications used to slow down the heart rate, reducing the heart's need for oxygen and improving the supply of blood to the heart
  • Calcium channel blockers, a group of medications used to reduce the frequency and severity of chest pain
  • Aspirin to help prevent the formation of blood clots
  • Other medications, such as ACE inhibitors to stop the production of a chemical that makes blood vessels become narrow
  • Angioplasty, a minimally invasive procedure to increase blood flow to the heart
  • Bypass surgery to create a new path for blood and oxygen to get to your heart

Why choose Rush for coronary artery disease care

  • Accreditation. Rush has received Mission: Lifeline STEMI Accreditation, provided through a partnership between the American Heart Association and the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care. To earn this accreditation, hospitals must meet standards for prompt, appropriate heart attack treatment, including lifesaving procedures such as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) on a 24/7 basis. Rush is one of only two hospitals in Chicago to receive this accreditation.
  • Rapid treatment. Rush's median "door-to-balloon" time — the time between when a person having a heart attack enters the hospital and receives the recommended emergency treatment of an angioplasty — is 60 minutes. This is significantly shorter than the standard U.S. goal of 90 minutes.
  • Quality care. Rush is one of only 78 hospitals nationwide to receive the American College of Cardiology's NCDR ACTION Registry–GWTG Gold Performance Achievement Award for 2015. The award recognizes Rush's commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of care for heart attack patients. It also signifies that Rush has reached an aggressive goal of treating these patients to standard levels of care as outlined by the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association clinical guidelines and recommendations.

Departments and programs that treat this condition