Sample 53-Year-Old Male Diagnosed with CAD
Analyzing cases and relating patient data with disease is a large part of healthcare. The following is a basic example of how to relate disease with a patient on a case-by-case basis.
According to the CDC (2009) “Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the US” (CDC, 2009). There are several forms of cardiovascular disease but the most lethal and common form is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). This form of heart disease occurs when cholesterol deposits accumulate in the arteries. These deposits are referred to as plaque and the buildup narrows the arteries over time. The process of buildup is known as atherosclerosis (CDC, 2009).
While there are hereditary issues with regard to CAD, the most important risk factors include diet, physical activity, obesity, and alcohol. Tobacco use promotes atherosclerosis so smoking should be avoided because of the high risk (CDC, 2012). As well, diet is another high-risk area. People who eat diets high in saturated fats and cholesterol greatly increase the risk of contracting CAD. Typically, individuals who eat high fat diets are also inactive and this compounds the problem because exercise helps reduce cholesterol and burns fat. Obesity is perhaps one of the worst factors because people who are obese tend to be inactive and have poor diets. This situation is made worse if the person drinks heavily because alcohol is a risk factor also. Alcohol increases blood pressure and triglycerides which contribute to the process of atherosclerosis (CDC, 2009).
Most people have CAD long before it becomes apparent. This is due to the fact that the early signs are not that noticeable. For example, people live with high blood pressure for long periods of time before it becomes an issue (CDC, 2009). The CDC lists five major symptoms of heart attack because CAD is usually found this way:
· Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
· Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint.
· Chest pain or discomfort.
· Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder.
· Shortness of breath (CDC, 2009).
In this case a 53-year-old male was diagnosed with CAD. There were several predisposing factors including: cigarette smoking, job pressure, family history, hypertension, irregular heartbeat, and low HDL. As well, there were also etiologic factors include predisposition through heredity (family history on father’s side).
After complaining of chest pains and being lightheaded the patient was given standard tests including electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), chest X-ray, blood tests (HDL), and an exercise electrocardiogram (stress test). These tests revealed low HDL and irregular heartbeat. An angiogram would provide further evidence of the presence of CAD.
The age and lifestyle factors are in line with CAD. The patient has a mostly sedentary lifestyle and high stress occupation. Although in the early stages, Lotensin was prescribed in order to lower blood pressure and reduce the workload on the heart. A change in diet and lifestyle is also necessary to manage symptoms.
The patient has a wife and young adult children. Family is supportive and appears willing to help the patient as needed. This support will be important for making lifestyle changes to healthier eating and more exercise.
The case study highlights the importance of prevention of CAD. While there are hereditary issues with regard to heart disease, the most important risk factors include diet, physical activity, obesity, and alcohol (CDC, 2012) (CDC, 2009). Tobacco use promotes atherosclerosis so smoking should be avoided because of the high risk (CDC, 2012). As well, diet is another high-risk area. People who eat diets high in saturated fats and cholesterol greatly increase the risk of contracting CAD. This case exemplifies how high fat diets combined with inactivity further compounds the risk of CAD. This situation is made worse if the person drinks heavily because, alcohol increases blood pressure and triglycerides which contribute to the process of atherosclerosis (CDC, 2009). While CAD cannot be cured it is manageable with changes in diet and lifestyle. A healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, taking prescribed medication, and exercising regularly are the proven methods for reducing the risk of CAD.
CDC. (2009, November 16). Heart Disease. Retrieved from CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/about.htm
CDC. (2012). Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking. Retrieved July 28, 2013, from http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/