Coronary Artery Disease Specialist

Donald Cedric Wallerson, MD

Cardiologist located in Bronx, NY

Coronary artery disease or CAD is a leading cause of heart attacks and death worldwide. At his practice in The Bronx, NY, Dr. Donald Wallerson uses advanced techniques to diagnose coronary artery disease and to manage its treatment for better long-term health.

Coronary Artery Disease Q & A

What is coronary artery disease?

Also called CAD, coronary artery disease is a chronic condition that develops when the arteries that provide the heart with a steady supply of blood (the coronary arteries) become narrowed or clogged by a buildup of a sticky substance called plaque. Plaque forms from deposits of cholesterol, a waxy substance produced by the body and also found in foods. Plaque clings to artery walls, making it more difficult for blood to flow through the arteries and also making the arteries less flexible. CAD typically takes years to develop before a serious complication occurs, and being screened for disease risk factors is important for preventing CAD and for treating it in its earliest stages.

What risks are associated with coronary artery disease?

Coronary artery disease is a leading cause of heart damage and heart attacks, caused when the heart muscles is deprived of the oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood it needs to function properly. Many people with CAD have arterial blockage elsewhere, including in the carotid arteries, the major arteries that supply blood to the brain. Carotid artery disease is a major cause of strokes.

What risk factors are associated with coronary artery disease?

Several risk factors have been linked with coronary artery disease, including:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • smoking
  • obesity
  • older age
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • poor diet, including a diet high in unhealthy fats and sodium

Radiation therapy can also increase the risk of CAD.

What are the symptoms of CAD?

CAD may cause no noticeable symptoms until a serious event like a heart attack occurs. CAD also causes recurrent chest pain (angina) in some people or similar symptoms like intense pressure or tightness in the chest. Pain can also occur in the jaw, back, arm or belly. Shortness of breath (especially during exercise) and chronic fatigue are also symptoms of CAD.

How is CAD treated?

CAD typically is diagnosed with a stress test, echocardiogram or other tests, including angiography that uses a thin catheter to look inside the arteries. Once diagnosed, CAD may be treated with lifestyle changes like losing excess weight and eating a healthy diet, medications to lower cholesterol or control hypertension, or surgery to remove plaques or “open up” the arteries.