Understanding coronary heart disease risk factors and prevention
The news that President George W. Bush had angioplasty, or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), to fix a blockage in an artery may come as a surprise to many. After all, the 67-year-old is a longtime fitness enthusiast who often jogs and rides a mountain bike. During his presidency from 2001 until 2009, he introduced several initiatives to help improve the nation’s health, including the Adult Fitness Challenge and the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award.
But the stent that President Bush received is a common treatment option for those with blocked arteries, says Robert Bonow, M.D., a cardiologist at Northwestern University and former president of the American Heart Association. He says there are many reasons why someone might need the non-surgical procedure, in which doctors insert a mesh tube into the blocked artery so that blood can more easily flow to the heart muscle.
“The analogy here would be a car engine and fuel line,” he explains. “If you have a narrow fuel line, your car may idle perfectly well. But if you step on the gas, you can’t get enough fuel to accelerate.”
The American Heart Association has detailed information about causes and prevention of coronory heart disease, where plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. As the plaque builds up, the arteries narrow, making it more difficult for blood flow to increase when you need it to. The plaque itself also creates a risk for heart attack or stroke.
“It is important to stay tuned with your health care professional and have regular, planned visits, especially if you are being treated for risk factors,” said Bonow.
Stories available for linking, quoting, excerpting, reprinting
Stories appearing on blog.heart.org under the "By American Heart Association News" byline are available for linking, quoting, excerpting and reprinting. Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. Permission is granted, at no cost and without need for further request, to link to, quote, excerpt or reprint from these stories in any medium as long as no text is altered and proper attribution is made to the American Heart Association. Additional conditions may apply to the use of these stories in printed materials.
American Heart Association additional conditions for linking, quoting, excerpting, reprinting stories in print media
- A credit line of American Heart Association News must be prominently placed on the page in which the American Heart Association materials appear.
- The American Heart Association logo and service marks may only be used if they appear on the materials requested.
- Stories reprinted may be edited for length, but no other deletions, alterations or other changes may be made without the prior written consent of the American Heart Association.
- Artwork labeled "American Heart Association" may be reprinted, but other artwork may not. For artwork permission questions, contact email@example.com
- Stories reprinted may not be placed adjacent to any advertisement, photo, graphic or other content that could be considered inappropriate by the American Heart Association. For questions about whether content is inappropriate, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Stories may not be displayed in any way that gives the appearance that the American Heart Association endorses (implied or otherwise) or is affiliated with any product, service or company.