Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Do I need to be concerned about my diagnosis of coronary artery disease?"
My general practitioner recently diagnosed me with coronary artery disease when I went in for a regular check up and wants me to start taking medicine to treat it. After the diagnosis, I did some research about the symptoms of the disease. I am not currently experiencing any chest pain, shortness of breath or other symptoms generally associated with CAD. Should I go to the expense of taking the medication, or would it be a good idea for me to get a second opinion?
I think it would be a good idea to get a second opinion and schedule an appointment with a cardiologist. Coronary artery disease is a condition where blockages form in the arteries that bring blood to the muscle of the heart. These vessels when blocked can cause damaged to the heart also known as a heart attack or ischemic heart disease. Coronary artery disease can only be officially diagnosed with a stress test that includes imaging and/or a cardiac catheterization. Since coronary artery disease usually causes symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath (as you pointed out), these tests are typically done when someone presents with those symptoms. Sometimes we will do those tests in someone who does not have those symptoms if we are otherwise very suspicious that coronary artery disease is present. Patient such as those with diabetes are one example of those patients. I would suggest that you schedule an appointment with a cardiologist. You can review your history, your blood pressure, and your cholesterol levels and determine your risk for coronary artery disease. If you have any symptoms that are concerning or your history suggests a high risk, then you might undergo one of the above tests. If your cholesterol or blood pressure need adjustments, you might need to take those medications.
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