Non-Obstructive Coronary Artery Disease

Non-obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD) is a complex condition distinguished from obstructive CAD by the presence of plaque in the arteries that doesn't entirely block blood flow.

At Tampa General Hospital’s Heart and Vascular Institute, we are dedicated to advancing the understanding and management of this unique form of CAD, and how it can particularly affect women. We are at the forefront of cardiac care, and we're committed to providing the highest standard of care to patients dealing with non-obstructive CAD. We are proud to be rated as One of the Nation's Best Hospitals for Heart & Vascular Care by U.S. News & World Report for 2024-25.

Causes of Non-Obstructive Coronary Artery Disease

Understanding the causes of non-obstructive coronary artery disease is essential for effective management and treatment. This condition is commonly caused by or linked to:

  • Poor diet
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Smoking
  • Physical inactivity
  • High stress and anger levels
  • Being a male over the age of 45
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Being postmenopausal
  • Having high blood pressure
  • A family history of heart disease
  • Uncontrolled cholesterol levels

Symptoms of Non-Obstructive Coronary Artery Disease

While non-obstructive CAD doesn't entirely block arteries, it can still lead to a range of symptoms. Recognizing these symptoms is helpful for timely intervention, although some people do not experience any symptoms at all. However, symptoms may include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Pain in the arm, neck or back
  • Feeling lightheaded, weak or nauseated
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue after activity
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat

Diagnosing Non-Obstructive Coronary Artery Disease

Accurate diagnosis is essential for effective treatment for non-obstructive CAD. Our expert team employs highly accurate diagnostic methods to assess each patient’s condition thoroughly. Diagnostic procedures may include:

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG) – EKGs measure the functionality of the heart.
  • Exercise stress test – This test measures the heart rate during physical activity on a treadmill.
  • Pharmacologic stress test – This test uses medication instead of exercise to speed up the heart rate for evaluation.
  • Chest X-ray – X-ray imaging provides a picture of the heart, lungs and other chest organs.
  • Coronary angiogram – This uses an X-ray to check blood flow through the arteries.
  • Coronary artery calcium scan – This scan examines the arteries for plaque and calcium buildup.
  • Blood tests – These tests measure factors that affect the arteries, such as cholesterol.
  • Echocardiogram – This test uses an ultrasound to create an image of the heart during stress testing.
  • Nuclear imaging – Radioactive tracers are used to create a picture of the heart during stress testing.

Non-Obstructive Coronary Artery Disease Treatment

The treatment approach for non-obstructive CAD depends on various factors, including a person's overall health and the presence of other cardiac conditions. Common treatment options encompass:

  • Lifestyle modifications – Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle by making dietary changes, increasing physical activity, reducing stress and quitting smoking can help patients manage this condition.
  • Medications – For those with risk factors like high cholesterol or high blood pressure, medication may be recommended.
  • Preventive measures – Daily aspirin and medications to alleviate chest pains may be part of the treatment plan.

While non-obstructive CAD doesn't usually necessitate artery-clearing surgery, Tampa General Hospital's expert team remains dedicated to your heart health. If your arteries do become obstructed and surgery is necessary, our team can perform a variety of procedures, including:

Become a TGH Patient

If you're dealing with non-obstructive coronary artery disease, the Heart and Vascular Institute at Tampa General Hospital is here to provide you with world-class care. In addition, our Women’s Heart Program caters to women with non-obstructive CAD and other heart conditions because we recognize that more targeted cardiac care for women is necessary in today’s healthcare landscape. To become a patient at our specialized center, contact us today or call (813) 844-3900.