Coronary stenosis is a condition in which a coronary artery becomes tapered and backed up with materials like fat or cholesterol. A coronary artery is a blood vessel located in the heart that is responsible for providing the heart with blood. If the artery becomes constricted, it can severely affect the heart’s functioning and may ultimately become fatal.
If the coronary artery becomes injured somehow, it can result in coronary stenosis. Cholesterol is a solid material that can attach to the insides of blood vessels and affect their ability to carry blood to the heart. Having high levels of cholesterol in the blood can damage the coronary artery, as can having high blood pressure levels. Smoking can also cause the condition because the nicotine in cigarettes can make blood vessels become narrowed and more susceptible to becoming blocked.
Mild instances of stenosis may not have any symptoms. Once the condition becomes worse and the artery becomes more tapered, it can result in a tight feeling in the chest because it has to fight against the clogged materials to pass blood through. It can also cause difficulty breathing, especially after physical activity, because the heart doesn’t have as much oxygen from blood. If left untreated, the blood in the artery can clot and completely block it from providing the heart with blood, resulting in a heart attack.
Coronary stenosis can be treated with the use of medications. A doctor may prescribe blood thinning medication so blood can more easily get through a constricted coronary artery. If a person has high cholesterol levels, he or she can take medication to lower amount of cholesterol in blood, making it less likely to cause blockage. Medications to lower blood pressure can prevent stenosis from worsening.
The condition can also be treated with surgery. One of the most common surgeries for coronary stenosis is angioplasty, in which a surgeon inserts an unfilled balloon into the clogged area and uses an instrument to fill the balloon with air. This forces excess materials closer to the walls of the artery, freeing up space for blood to pump through. More serious cases, as when than one artery is clogged, may need bypass surgery. A surgeon cuts a piece of a vein from another body part and attaches it to the blocked area to redirect blood around any narrowed coronary arteries.
As a person gets older, he or she is more likely to have coronary stenosis, but the condition may also be hereditary. It is more common in males than females, but can occur in anyone. Having a sedentary lifestyle or being obese puts a person at a higher risk for developing stenosis. It can be prevented by getting daily exercise, eating a diet low in saturated fats, not smoking, and seeking treatment for high cholesterol or blood pressure.