The heart is a muscle about the size of your fist that pumps blood throughout your body to keep it supplied with oxygen and nutrients. The largest blood vessel in the heart is the aorta, which carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The left anterior descending artery is one of three major coronary arteries that branch off the aorta. The LAD supplies blood to the front (anterior) portion of the heart. When the vessel becomes blocked blood flow is reduced. If the artery becomes completely blocked, it can cause a heart attack.
The most common symptoms of a blockage in your LAD include chest pain (angina), tightness in your chest, pain in your abdomen or arm, shortness of breath and fatigue. The symptoms of a heart attack are like those of blockage only more intense and include intense pain or crushing pressure in your chest, shortness of breath, nausea and sweating.
Symptoms in Women
Nearly 500,000 women die of cardiovascular disease and stroke each year, according to the American Heart Association. Women often disregard the early signs of coronary disease because their symptoms are atypical. For women, symptoms may include difficulty sleeping, indigestion and anxiety.
There are a number of factors that contribute to blockage of your arteries, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. If you have any of these risk factors, discuss them with your health care provider.
To help lower your risk of coronary artery blockage increase your exercise, lower your blood pressure if you have hypertension, check your cholesterol level and seek treatment if it is high, and lower the stress in your life. If you smoke, stop. Also, limit the amount of alcohol you drink. The American Heart Association recommends lowering your alcohol intake to an average of no more than one drink for women or two drinks for men per day
Treatments for blocked arteries include cardiac catheterization, balloon angioplasty and atherectomy. During a cardiac catheterization procedure, a sheath is inserted into a blood vessel in your arm, wrist or groin. A thin catheter is inserted through the sheath and guided to your heart. Your doctor then examines your heart and arteries to determine what treatment you need. If your arteries are blocked, your doctor can insert a catheter with a balloon at its tip into the artery. The balloon is then expanded to compress the blockage in your artery and increase blood flow. This is called a balloon angioplasty. Another option is an atherectomy. During this procedure, your doctor will insert a grinding catheter that will grind the blockage into small pieces that will be swept away in your bloodstream.