DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I am a 49-year-old man with a strong family history of coronary artery disease. Although I used to compete in triathlons, I just don’t have that kind of stamina anymore, and I become short of breath pretty easily. Should this be cause for concern? I also don’t have much time to exercise, so I run five or six miles just once or twice per week. Would another type of exercise be better for someone in my situation?
ANSWER: With a family history like yours, along with what sounds like a loss of exercise capacity, it would be a good idea to see a cardiologist and have your situation evaluated. Testing may be able to show if you have any heart issues that need to be addressed. A cardiologist can also assess your exercise routines and other lifestyle issues that could have an impact on your heart health.
Coronary artery disease happens when the major blood vessels that lead to your heart — your coronary arteries — become damaged or diseased, often due to a buildup of cholesterol-containing deposits, known as plaque, or inflammation.