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Living With Coronary Microvascular Disease

If you have coronary microvascular disease (MVD), you can take action to control it. Follow the steps described in "How Can Coronary Microvascular Disease Be Prevented?"

Coronary MVD, like traditional coronary heart disease, increases your risk for a heart attack. If you have signs or symptoms of a heart attack, call 9–1–1 at once.

These signs and symptoms may include chest pain, upper body discomfort, shortness of breath, and nausea (feeling sick to your stomach). For more detailed information about the warning signs of a heart attack, go to the section on warning signs below.

Ongoing Care

If you have coronary MVD, see your doctor regularly to make sure the disease isn't getting worse. Work with your doctor to keep track of your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. This will help your doctor adjust your treatment as needed.

You may need to see a cardiologist (heart specialist) in addition to your primary care doctor. Talk with your doctor about how often you should schedule office visits or blood tests. Between those visits, call your doctor if you have any new symptoms or your symptoms worsen.

You should:

  • Know your symptoms and how and when to seek medical help.
  • Be able to describe the usual pattern of your symptoms.
  • Know which medicines you take and when and how to take them.
  • Know how to control your symptoms, including angina.
  • Know the limits of your physical activity.
  • Learn ways to avoid or cope with stress.

Warning Signs

If you have coronary MVD, learn the warning signs of a heart attack. The signs and symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort. This involves uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center or left side of the chest that can be mild or strong. This pain or discomfort often lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
  • Upper body discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or upper part of the stomach.
  • Shortness of breath, which may occur with or before chest discomfort.
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), vomiting, light-headedness or fainting, or breaking out in a cold sweat.
  • Sleep problems, fatigue (tiredness), and lack of energy.

If you think you're having a heart attack, call 9–1–1 at once. Early treatment can prevent or limit damage to your heart muscle. Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Instead, call an ambulance so that medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room.

Let the people you see regularly know you're at risk for a heart attack. They can seek emergency care if you suddenly faint, collapse, or have other severe symptoms.

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November 2, 2011