University of Colorado Hospital is committed to helping people with coronary artery disease.
We offer the latest advanced treatments, have some of the best outcomes in the state, and the greatest patient safety records. We also have a full-service cardiac rehabilitation program.
UCH's "Get With the Guidelines" Designation
The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association recognize this hospital for achieving at least two years of 85% or higher adherence to all Get With the Guidelines (SM) program quality indicators to improve quality of patient care and outcomes.
Coronary Artery Disease Specialists
Cardiologist - a doctor who specialize in study of the actions of the heart and its diseases
Cardiac Surgeon - a surgeon who specializes in the surgical treatment of heart disease
Interventional cardiologist - a cardiologist who specializes in the catheter-based treatment of heart disease
Interventional radiologist - a doctor who specializes in minimally invasive, targeted treatments performed using imaging for guidance
Other Coronary Artery Disease Staff
Nurse practitioner - a registered nurse who has completed advanced education and training in the diagnosis and management of common medical conditions, including chronic illnesses.
Radiology technician - a technician who creates radiographic images of the body which help to diagnose and treat illnesses.
Registered nurse - a nurse who conducts medical evaluations, takes patient histories and provides after care for patients
A cardiac catheterization helps your doctor to determine the pressure on the heart and the blood vessels feeding it. The catheterization requires a small tube to be inserted through the artery in the groin and passed through to the heart. An injection of dye allows your doctor to see the pattern of blood flow to and through your heart and determine if there are blockages.
Exercise Stress Test
This test evaluates how well your heart is functioning. During the stress test, you will walk on a treadmill while a machine monitors your:
- Heart rhythm
- Blood pressure
- Other vital signs
Nuclear Stress Test
An exercise stress test that includes an injection of a small amount of a radioactive material into your vein. This material helps illuminate areas that are blocked and may not be receiving a sufficient blood supply. It reaches your heart as you are exercising. Following the exercise test, you will have an X-ray of your heart.
If you cannot perform an exercise stress test, your doctor may use drugs that dilate (widen) your blood vessels. After the drugs are injected into your vein, you will receive an injection of radioactive material to help show areas of blockage in the arteries.
An echocardiogram (ECHO), also known as a cardiac ultrasound, uses sound waves to create pictures of the heart, helping to identify areas of the heart that are contracting irregularly.
If you have coronary artery disease you may be able to manage it with medications prescribed by your doctor:
- Blood thinners prevent the formation of clots
- Medicines to break up blood clots
- ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors, which reduce pressure on the blood vessels by dilating (widening) them
- Beta blockers limit the effects of the hormone adrenaline and slow down the heart rate. Beta blockers also help blood vessels to dilate (widen), which improves blood flow
- Blood pressure medicine
- Medicines to keep blood platelets from forming on a damaged artery
- Cholesterol-lowering medicines to help reduce the formation of plaque
- Nitroglycerin improves blood flow, reduces the workload on your heart and relieves pain
- Hypoglycemic medicines decrease the amount of sugar in your blood
If the disease continues to progress, you will need nonsurgical or surgical treatment, administered by your doctor.
Angioplasty and Stenting
Your doctor may be able to clear your carotid artery with a minimally invasive procedure, using angioplasty and a process called stenting. A very thin, flexible tube called a catheter that carries a small balloon is threaded to your artery. The balloon opens and closes, flattening the plaque against the artery walls. Your doctor then inserts a wire mesh tube called a stent into the artery. The stent keeps the artery open and allows the blood to flow freely.
Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery
Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) may be performed if the arteries bringing blood to your heart (the coronaries) become so thickened and hardened with fatty deposits called plaque that blood flow is blocked. The blockage creates a risk of heart attack and death.
During CABG surgery, graft a healthy blood vessel to the heart and reroute blood around the blockage. Surgical assistants will remove a vein, generally from the leg. The surgeon will open the sternum and attach one end of the vein to aortic artery and the other to the coronary artery below the blockage. The blood flows freely through the graft.
Living With Coronary Artery Disease
You can make lifestyle changes that will help you to manage coronary artery disease or reduce your risk. These changes include:
- Avoiding or quitting smoking
- Managing your weight
- Following a doctor-approved exercise plan
- Modifying your diet by restricting intake of salt and fat and increasing intake of fiber
- Regularly taking medications to control blood pressure and/or diabetes
- Avoiding or restricting alcohol consumption
- Reducing stress
Getting a Second Opinion about Coronary Artery Disease
The doctors and staff of the UCH Cardiac & Vascular Center are happy to provide second opinions for patients who have symptoms of or are diagnosed with coronary artery disease.
Additional Coronary Artery DiseaseResources
The following organizations provide excellent information on coronary artery disease:
American Heart Association
American College of Cardiology
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institution