In The Know: Coronary ischemia
Coronary Ischemia, also known as myocardial or cardiac ischemia, occurs when blood flow to the heart muscle is decreased due to narrowed coronary arteries, which limits the supply of blood and decreases the oxygen of the heart.
The blockage of the coronary arteries is generally due to the buildup of plaques, composed of cholesterol-rich fatty deposits and other proteins, in the arterial walls, a process known as atherosclerosis.
Conditions that may cause coronary ischemia also include blood clots, coronary artery spasms or through infection and other severe illnesses.
Factors that can increase the risk of coronary ischemia include smoking, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, obesity, lack of exercise and a family history of premature heart attacks.
In many cases, coronary ischemia shows no symptoms, a condition known as silent ischemia. When it does cause signs and symptoms, these may include chest pressure or pain, typically on the left side, pain on the neck, jaw, shoulder or arm, clammy skin, shortness of breath and nausea and vomiting.
Coronary ischemia can be a life-threatening condition that may lead to a number of serious complications, including heart attack, irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia or, in some cases, heart failure.
Damage to the arteries can be slowed or halted with lifestyle changes, including quitting smoking, dietary modifications and regular exercise, or by medications to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Treatment of coronary ischemia is directed at improving blood flow to the heart muscle. Depending on the severity of the condition, it may be treated with medications, like beta and calcium channel blockers and aspirin, or through surgical procedures like angioplasty and bypass surgeries. Inquirer Research
Sources: hopkinsmedicine.org, mayoclinic.com, PDI Archives