Coronary Artery Disease | Symptoms & Treatment | MedStar Health

Advanced treatment for this common heart disease

Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease in the United States, and the specialists in our Cardiac Surgery and Interventional Cardiology programs develop and use the latest surgical and technological advances to treat it.

The disease is often caused by atherosclerosis, a condition in which the arteries become narrow because of the buildup of plaque. A complete blockage can result in a heart attack or stroke.


Image shows the inside view of a partially blocked coronary artery that has layers of fatty deposits as well as where on the heart this artery can be found.
As the artery narrows, less blood reaches the rest of your body. You may experience:


Your risk for this disease increases as you age, and men are generally at greater risk than women.

However, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to prevent and control the condition, including:


Chest X-ray
Chest X-rays use a small dose of radiation to create pictures of the structures inside the chest, including the lungs, heart, and chest wall.
Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan

The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.


An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.

Fractional Flow Reserve

Fractional flow reserve, also known as FFR, is a measurement of how well blood can flow through the coronary arteries. Narrowing or blockages in these arteries can lead to a heart attack without treatment.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets, and computer technology to create images of your heart and blood vessels.

Stress Tests

Stress tests are used to assess how your heart works during physical activity. There are several types of stress tests, including treadmill or bike stress tests, nuclear stress tests, stress echocardiograms, and chemically induced stress tests.


Treatments for this disease can increase blood flow to your heart and slow the progression of the disease, but are not a cure. Treating the disease involves reducing your risk factors, which may involve lifestyle changes. Your disease also may be treated with medication or surgical procedures.


Angioplasty improves blood flow through the arteries by clearing plaque buildup.

Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery

This surgery, also known as coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG), restores normal blood flow through narrowed or blocked arteries by using a healthy blood vessel taken from your leg, arm, or chest to create a detour around the problem area.

Coronary Artery Stenting

These stents are small mesh tubes placed within the artery to prevent blockages and allow better blood flow.

Intracoronary Radiation Therapy

Intracoronary radiation therapy is an innovative treatment that uses radiation to prevent scar tissue buildup in the arteries after an angioplasty or stent placement.

Off-Pump Bypass Surgery (Beating-Heart Bypass)

Off-pump bypass surgery, also known as beating-heart bypass surgery, is an option for many patients to have coronary artery bypass surgery without needing to stop the heart or lungs during the procedure.

Heart Surgery

Heart surgery is an option to treat many heart conditions. You may need heart surgery either as a lifesaving procedure or when other treatments haven’t worked.

What is your heart age?

Each year about 655,000 Americans die from heart disease – that’s one in every four deaths. Understanding your Heart Age is a way to assess your risk factors for heart attack and stroke. Some things put you at risk for a heart attack or stroke that you cannot change, such as getting older or your family history, but there are ways to lower your risk.

Ask MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute

Have general questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at If you have clinically-specific questions, please contact your physician’s office.