What is 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.

Left untreated, ischemic heart disease may lead to severe heart damage. Heart damage can result in heart attack and shock and may be life threatening. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, which may be accompanied by pale or blue lips, rapid heart rate (tachycardia), and severe chest pain. Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for angina but have mild symptoms that recur or are persistent.


SYMPTOMS

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 p... Read more about ischemic heart diseasesymptoms

CAUSES

What causes ischemic heart disease?

Ischemic heart disease is caused by a decrease in blood flow through one or more of the blood vessels that carry oxygen to your heart (coronary arteries). When blood flow is reduced, the heart muscle does not receive the amount of oxygen it needs to function properly.

Ischemic heart disease may develop slowly, as plaque builds up over time, or it may occur quickly if an artery is ... Read more about ischemic heart diseasecauses

TREATMENTS

How is ischemic heart disease treated?

Treatment for ischemic heart disease begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. To determine if you have ischemic heart disease, your health care provider will ask you to undergo several diagnostic tests.

Medications used to treat ischemic heart disease

Drug therapy is commonly used for treatment of ischemic heart disease and includes:

... Read more about ischemic heart diseasetreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

Your Guide to Heart Disease

This Article is Filed Under: Heart Disease, Heart, Blood and Circulation


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