In the past three decades, there has been a 300% increase in the incidence of coronary artery disease (CAD) among Indians. About two-to-six percent of those affected live in rural India and four-to-twelve percent in urban India. Among other things, lifestyle factors such as increased consumption of alcohol can exacerbate the risk of acquiring CAD, especially those with a family history of the condition.
Excessive alcohol consumption can cause a buildup of plaque in the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis. This leads to one or more of these arteries to become partially or completely blocked, thereby reducing the blood flow. Uncontrolled CAD can lead to a heart attack over time.
Speaking about this, Dr Manoj Kumar of Max Super Specialty Hospital, Patparganj, New Delhi, said, “Alcohol overconsumption can put your heart at risk. Excess alcohol can directly damage the heart muscle and cause arrythmia (irregular beating of the heart). It is also a contributing factor for weight gain, high triglycerides and blood pressure, and strokes. It is imperative to avoid binge drinking and keep one or more alcohol-free days every week. The symptoms of CAD may begin to show up only after a long time and by then, there could already be a significant blockage in your heart.”
Some symptoms of CAD to watch out for include angina or chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, and an abnormal heart beat. However, these may not be evident till the condition has worsened. Dr Kumar further said that blockage in the arteries tends to develop from a young age. While some amount of blockage is common, what can make the situation worse is our lifestyle choices.
“It is important to cultivate healthy habits right at the onset to reduce the risk of acquiring CAD. In some patients, CAD can be managed through techniques such as angiography, and in others, cardiac interventions such as angioplasty with stenting or coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) may be needed,” he said. Angioplasty is a treatment that is used to restore and improve blood flow. A long, thin tube (catheter) is inserted into the narrowed part of the artery. A wire with a deflated balloon is then passed through the catheter to the narrowed area. The balloon is inflated, compressing the deposits against the artery walls.
A stent/ wire mesh tube is inserted into the artery to keep it open after angioplasty. Drug-eluting coronary stents can help prevent plaque buildup, promote good blood flow to the heart, and relieve chest pain. Angioplasty or PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention) has benefited millions of patients and is currently the Standard of Care for the disease state. In CABG, the surgeon creates a graft to bypass blocked coronary arteries using a vessel from another part of the body. This allows blood to flow around the blocked or narrowed coronary artery.