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Doc Talk | Breaking down two common heart problems

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It's the leading cause of death in the United States.

Heart disease.

A third of Americans will suffer from it in some capacity in their lifetime.

Clogging the arteries connected to your heart is like clogging a pipe. It can be chronic and ongoing or it could require emergency surgery.

Just like a dentist wants you to avoid plaque buildup in your teeth and gums, cardiologists want you to avoid plaque buildup in your arteries.

"They get clogged which leads to decreased blood flow to the muscle and in certain instances, the plaques that are built up in the artery actually rupture as well and that can lead to an acute heart attack," explains Dr. Aditya Sharma, a Holy Spirit Cardiologist.

Ultrasounds, MRI's and CT Scans allow doctors to check your heart before anything happens.

If there is a problem with your heart, doctors say you would likely know.

You'd have chest pain or shortness of breath. All symptoms of coronary artery disease, where the buildup in the heart's arteries is just too much.

"Interventional cardiology involves the use of different balloons, stents and other devices to open up those arteries," explains Dr. Sharma. "And provide a way for the blood to continue to flow to the heart."

But there are times when doctors must turn to emergency surgery.

For instance, if you have acute coronary syndrome, where the buildup is so bad it compromises blood flow to the heart.

"The more we wait to profuse it or get get the blood supply back, the more damage that occurs," said Dr. Sharma.

Signs of ACS are more obvious, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and sweating. And it requires a drive over to the ER.

Doctors continue to stress the best and only thing you can do to prevent any form of heart disease is to lead a healthy lifestyle. That means no smoking and good diet and exercise.

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