Triple vessel coronary artery disease is a severe form of coronary disease that puts you at risk for complications such as heart attack and stroke. Treatment includes surgery, medications, and lifestyle changes.
Triple vessel coronary artery disease is a more severe form of coronary artery disease. It’s a progression of coronary artery disease that most often occurs
Typically, coronary artery disease only affects one artery. In triple vessel coronary artery disease, three are affected. This increases the risk of serious complications.
Read on for information about treatment options and survival rates for people with triple vessel coronary artery disease.
Triple vessel coronary artery disease is a severe type of coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD develops when the blood vessels that supply your heart with blood — the coronary arteries — are damaged.
CAD is typically the result of either inflammation or a buildup of fatty cholesterol deposits called plaques. Most people with CAD have plaque buildup or inflammation in one of their arteries.
In triple vessel CAD, three major vessels are affected. This includes the:
- left circumflex artery
- right coronary artery
- left anterior descending artery
Triple vessel CAD is a progression of CAD. It typically happens when plaque continues to build up on the artery walls. This can happen when CAD isn’t well managed.
Several factors can play a role, including:
The symptoms of triple vessel coronary artery disease are similar to the symptoms of CAD and include:
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- a rapid or irregular heartbeat
- a choking feeling
- pain and discomfort in areas such as the back, neck, arms, shoulders, or jaw
These symptoms can also be seen in other health conditions, especially in conditions related to heart health. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to make a medical appointment.
The primary cause of triple vessel coronary artery disease is the buildup of plaque on the artery walls. This is called atherosclerosis.
Plaque is made up of cholesterol, lipids, and other fats. That’s why high cholesterol and high triglyceride levels are risk factors for CAD and triple vessel CAD. High blood pressure (hypertension) also puts strain on your coronary arteries and can raise your risk of conditions such as CAD.
When people already have CAD, having hypertension along with it can increase the risk that CAD will progress to triple vessel CAD.
Other risk factors for triple vessel CAD include:
After a discussion of your symptoms, medical history, and family history, a doctor will want to see how well your heart is working.
To confirm a diagnosis of triple vessel CAD, they will also need to get a close look at your blood vessels. To do this, your doctor will order one or more of the following tests:
- An electrocardiogram (EKG): An EKG is a test that can record the electrical signals of the heart. There are a few different types of EKG. Some are done quickly in a hospital or clinic setting, and others are done with small portable machines you can wear during daily activities for an extended time.
- An echocardiogram: An echocardiogram is a test of your heart function done with an ultrasound machine. The ultrasound captures images of your heart and how the parts work together.
- A stress test: A stress test is done to see how your heart reacts to physical activity. You’ll be attached to monitors and cameras that will record how your heart responds as you walk, ride a bike, or complete other exercises.
- An angiogram: An angiogram is a test done by injecting a specialized dye into your arteries using a long, thin catheter tube. The tube is gently and carefully threaded through an artery so that doctors can see how blood flows. Sometimes, a balloon is inserted through the catheter and inflated to help improve blood flow in areas where blockages can be seen.
Treatment focuses on improving blood flow, reducing strain on your heart, and slowing down or reversing the buildup of plaque on your artery walls.
Your exact treatment plan will depend on factors such as your overall health, the other medications you take, and how you respond to treatment. Common options include:
- beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers to lower blood pressure
- medications that can relax artery walls (vasodilators)
- procedures to open arteries using balloons and stents, such as percutaneous coronary intervention or coronary artery bypass grafting
- lifestyle changes such as increasing exercise, following a heart healthy diet, quitting smoking, and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight for your body
Can you reverse triple vessel coronary artery disease?
Currently, there’s not enough evidence to determine if it’s possible to completely reverse triple vessel CAD. But following a doctor-prescribed treatment plan and adopting a heart healthy lifestyle can make a significant difference.
You might not be able to reverse triple vessel CAD, but you can slow down and even stop the progression. You can also greatly reduce your risk of complications, such as heart attack and stroke.
Triple vessel CAD is a serious condition that affects multiple arteries. It’s a progression of CAD, and it puts you at risk for CAD complications such as heart attack and stroke.
Medications, lifestyle changes, and sometimes surgery can help you manage triple vessel CAD.
The exact outlook for someone with triple vessel CAD varies depending on factors such as family history and co-occurring health conditions. But in general, treatment and lifestyle changes can be very effective for people with this condition.
Triple vessel CAD is a serious progression of CAD. Typically, CAD affects only one coronary artery. People with triple vessel CAD have damage in three coronary arteries, typically caused by plaque buildup.
This causes an even greater reduction in blood flow and increases the risk of complications such as heart attack and stroke.
Treatments for triple vessel CAD include medications to lower blood pressure and relax blood vessel walls. Surgical treatments to bypass blockages and restore blood flow are also an option. In addition, lifestyle changes are typically a key to success.