Ischemic heart disease

Ischemic heart disease is known to a lot of people as coronary artery disease. It is a condition characterized by deposit of fatty acids that are accumulated in the wall lining of the coronary arteries. This can interrupt the flow of blood supply when fatty deposits eventually build up around the two main coronary arteries. Such process is also referred to as atherosclerosis, which can possibly lead to the hardening or narrowing of the blood vessels that constrict the blood supply to the coronary arteries. This situation can lead to inadequate oxygen supply also known as ischemia. Eventually, this can lead to damage of the heart muscle and may cause heart attack or a stroke.

To date, there is no known specific cause for ischemic heart disease but there are a number of risk factors that can minimize the complications of this disease.

People who have a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis are more prone to acquiring this disease. One should also stop smoking and avoid high cholesterol food or food with low level of high density lipoproteins. People with poor diet or taking too much fat in their food are at risk too. Being overweight and people with hypertension are also prone to this disease.

In order to prevent ischemic heart disease, it is important that the risk factors mentioned above are minimized or eliminated. Doing so can prevent a person from acquiring this disease or to stop the disease from getting any worse. Lipid abnormalities should also be treated to help prevent the progression of atherosclerosis.

One of the reasons why ischemic heart disease is often left untreated during its early stage is because it has no obvious symptoms during the initial stages. At its later stages, a patient may feel abnormalities in the chest including burning, tightness, squeezing feeling, and heaviness. This pain can also extend to other parts of the body like the arm, jaw, shoulder blade, and the neck. This symptom is also known as angina pectoris. This condition can be experienced after taking a meal or after a physical activity. It can go away by taking a rest. This symptom can be triggered by cold weather and even emotional stress.

Most patients are diagnosed with ischemic heart disease when they experience chest pains. Further tests are implemented to confirm the existence of the disease including ECG and administration of sublingual nitroglycerin which is a medicine that can relieve the chest pain in a matter of minutes.

Other tests administered to include an echocardiogram, exercise tolerance test, blood studies to check on the fat content, lipoproteins and cholesterol of the body, and a thallium stress test. A patient can also undergo coronary angiogram and chest X-ray.

To be able to prevent ischemic heart disease or to delay its progression, proper diet is highly recommended. Your daily diet should include foods that are low in fat. Have a low cholesterol diet and exercise on a regular basis. You can also take medicines that can lower cholesterol when diet alone doesn’t do the trick. High blood pressure should be treated and you should keep away from stress and smoking. Living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining your ideal body weight can also help in preventing this disease.

There are a number of ways on how to treat ischemic heart disease once arteries become blocked or partially blocked. One of the most common is balloon angioplasty where an uninflated balloon is used to remove obstruction by expanding the balloon in the obstructed area. A patient can also undergo surgery for severe cases. This is used to bypass coronary arteries. A heart transplant is also possible if so needed but this would be a last resort, only after the disease has damaged the heart beyond repair.


Last updated on Apr 20th, 2010 and filed under Cardiovascular Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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