Heart and Vascular Center

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease (CAD) causes a decrease in blood flow to the heart muscle. When fatty substances called plaque are deposited in the inner lining of an artery, the artery is narrowed, restricting or blocking blood flow. The rupture of this plaque can cause a heart attack and subsequent chest pain.

St. Joseph Hospital offers the latest therapies and treatments for coronary artery disease, from lifestyle management to the most advanced open-heart surgery techniques.

CAD Diagnostic Services

After you have described your symptoms and your physician has performed a physical examination, any one of several diagnostic tests may be used to diagnose and determine the severity of the coronary artery disease or heart attack and your current heart health. These diagnostic procedures may include an electrocardiogram, an exercise stress test, or cardiac catheterization.

The St. Joseph Hospital Heart and Vascular Center's Cardiac Catheterization Lab is recognized as one of the best in the region, and is staffed by experienced and highly skilled physicians. Invasive cardiac services are provided in four procedure suites. Both pediatric and adult patients are served.


Open-heart surgery is not the only treatment available for coronary artery disease. In fact, it is usually the last course of action after a period of medical treatment. The St. Joseph Hospital Heart and Vascular Center offers the latest drug regimens as well as a full range of cardiac interventional therapies, including cardiac catheterization, balloon angioplasty, balloon valvuloplasty, laser, cutting balloon, and stents.

The doctors at St. Joseph Hospital are Orange County's pioneers in interventional medical treatments. They were the first to perform outpatient angioplasty in 1980, atherectomy in 1987, and intracoronary stent implantation in 1995.


Coronary artery bypass, sometimes referred to as CABG or "cabbage," is an operation performed to improve the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. This procedure creates a new path through which blood can flow freely. During surgery, blood is rerouted around clogged arteries using blood vessels taken from other parts of the body such as the leg and chest wall.

The adult and pediatric cardiac surgery programs at St. Joseph Hospital offer a complete range of surgical procedures, including coronary artery bypass surgery, valve repair and replacement, pacemaker implantation, corrective and palliative congenital heart surgery, repair of aortic and ventricular aneurysms, and more.

For more than 40 years, St. Joseph Hospital has been a leader in innovative cardiac care. In 1961, St. Joseph-affiliated physicians performed Orange County's first open-heart surgery, repairing a hole in the heart of a 5-year-old boy. Today, the St. Joseph Hospital Heart and Vascular Center continues to be one of the only programs in the county to offer both adult and pediatric open-heart surgery.

Are You at Risk for CAD?

The more risk factors a person has for CAD, the more likely it is that the person will develop heart problems or have a heart attack.

Risk factors for CAD include:

  • Being a man older than age 35
  • Being a woman who has gone through menopause
  • Being overweight
  • Having high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Having diabetes
  • Having high cholesterol
  • Having a family history of heart disease
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Being physically inactive

Risk factors for a heart attack also include the use of cocaine and amphetamines.