Ischemic Heart Disease
Ischemic heart disease is a condition of recurring chest pain or discomfort that occurs when a part of the heart does not receive enough blood. This condition occurs most often during exertion or excitement, when the heart requires greater blood flow. Ischemic heart disease, also called coronary heart disease, is common in the United States and is a leading cause of death worldwide.
Ischemic heart disease develops when cholesterol particles in the blood begin to accumulate on the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Eventually, deposits called plaques may form. These deposits narrow the arteries and eventually block the flow of blood. This decrease in blood flow reduces the amount of oxygen supplied to the heart muscle.
The signs and symptoms of ischemic heart disease may develop slowly as arteries gradually become blocked, or they may occur quickly if an artery suddenly becomes blocked. Some people with ischemic heart disease have no symptoms at all, while others may have severe chest pain (angina) and shortness of breath that can pose a risk of heart attack.
Fortunately, ischemic heart disease can be treated successfully with lifestyle changes, medicines, and surgical procedures. Even better, you can reduce your risk of ischemic heart disease by following heart-healthy practices, such as eating a low-fat, low-sodium diet, being physically active, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy body weight.
What are the symptoms of ischemic heart disease?
Ischemic heart disease reduces the flow of blood to the coronary arteries, which carry oxygen to the heart. This reduction in blood flow may result in a number of symptoms, which can vary in intensity among individuals.
Common symptoms of ischemic heart disease:
You may experience ischemic heart disease symptoms daily or just occasionally. Common symptoms include chest pain, chest pressure, or shortness of breath that:
- Is relieved by rest or medicine
- May feel as if pain starting in the chest spreads to the arms, back, or other areas
- May feel like gas or indigestion (more common in women)
- Occurs repeatedly; episodes tend to be alike
- Occurs when the heart must work harder, usually during physical exertion
- Usually lasts a short time (five minutes or less)
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