Blood circulation throughout the body is a key component of a person’s health as it supplies muscles and organs with the oxygen they need to function properly. When blood flow is reduced to the heart, a person can experience serious health issues that can become fatal if left untreated.

Cardiovascular disease is a broad term that refers to a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels and is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one person dies every 33 seconds in the US from cardiovascular disease.

When cholesterol, fats and other substances build up on the inside walls of an artery, it is called plaque or atherosclerosis. When this happens, blood flow within the body is blocked and can be very dangerous. Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Diseases (ASCVD) such as Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) and Cerebrovascular Disease are common serious cardiovascular conditions. CAD often causes chest pain and heart attacks due to the reduction of blood flow to the heart. PAD affects arteries outside of the heart and reduces blood flow to limbs, resulting in pain, weakness, sores or even amputations. Cerebrovascular Disease affects the arteries leading to the brain, which can result in a stroke.

The development of atherosclerosis is a gradual and complex process which typically begins with damage to the inner layer of an artery. Often, it is caused by factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, physical inactivity or elevated cholesterol levels.

The Heart and Vascular Institute of Eastern Kentucky at Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) offers three cardiothoracic surgeons, three vascular surgeons, two interventional cardiologists and a host of other cardiac specialists. This highly trained and dedicated team can treat many types of cardiovascular disease medically and/or surgically with coronary stents, angioplasties or bypass surgery. Patients battling cerebrovascular disease also have several treatment options, many of which can be performed by one of PMC’s two experienced neurosurgeons.

Like many other heart conditions, lifestyle change is the key to the prevention and management of atherosclerosis. To accomplish this, patients are encouraged to adopt heart-healthy habits such as quitting smoking, maintaining a balanced diet, exercising regularly, regulating blood pressure, getting cholesterol checks and managing diabetes when necessary.

The first step in diagnosing and treating heart disease is seeing a primary care provider and receiving the recommended screening and tests. Call (606)-430-3500 to schedule an appointment.