Ischemic Heart Disease: Causes, Signs, Symptoms, Diagnosis

What is Ischemic Heart Disease?

Ischemic heart disease is developed when there is a constriction in the blood and oxygen supply to the heart because of infections or damages caused to the major heart blood vessels. With age plaque (or cholesterol deposits) gets deposited in the arteries (major heart blood vessels) resulting in reduced flow of blood as well as inflammation.

Formation of plaque results in decreased blood supply to the heart. Symptoms manifest in the form of breathlessness, angina or chest pain and sometimes heart attack in case of complete blockage.

Ischemic heart disease could take decades to manifest in the body, therefore it is important to take precautions and prevent the blockages from occurring in the body. Healthy lifestyle would go a long way in enhancing the quality of life and prevent ischemic heart disease.

What is Ischemic Heart Disease?

What is the Cause of Ischemic Heart Disease?

There are few major causes of ischemic heart disease. Ischemic heart disease can occur in the childhood if coronary arteries get infected or damaged. Some of the major causes are as follows:

  • Excessive Smoking can cause ischemic heart disease.
  • High B.P (blood pressure) over a long period of time can cause ischemic heart disease.
  • Increase in cholesterol levels, Insulin resistance or diabetes can cause ischemic heart disease.
  • Long term sedentary lifestyle can also lead to ischemic heart disease.

What is the Cause of Ischemic Heart Disease?

If the heart arterial walls are damaged or infected, it becomes a breeding ground of plaque consisting of cholesterol and other types of wastes. When the plaque ruptures, it can compel the platelets of the blood cells to repair the injured portion leading to the clogging of the arteries and eventual heart attack.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Ischemic Heart Disease?

There are three major signs and symptoms for ischemic heart disease. When the walls of the heart arteries thicken, they constrict the blood supply resulting in the rise of heart beat during heavy exercise. Initially the symptoms of ischemic heart disease are not evident but later on you can experience variety of problems.

  • Chest pain or angina is a symptom of ischemic heart disease. Angina pain is one of the most common symptoms when people feel that the chest is tight or squeezed. It occurs in the middle or the left side of the chest. Prominent causes are emotional and physical stress. In women, the angina manifests in the form of neck and the back pain.
  • Shortness of breath can be a symptom of ischemic heart disease. If your heart cannot pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs, you may develop shortness of breath or extreme fatigue with exertion. Due to lower blood supply, heart has to work hard to pump the blood. As a result people would experience extreme fatigue.
  • Heart attack is a possible symptom of ischemic heart disease. Blocked blood supply in the arteries can cause heart attack to the people. Shooting pain in the chest can result in the individual grasping for breath.

Neck along with jaw pain is one of the common signs of symptoms of heart attack in women and these neck and jaw pains are more prominent in women than in men.

When to See a Doctor for Ischemic Heart Disease?

People having heart attack should immediately call 911 or the emergency services. You can also request friends to drive you to the hospital in case of any eventuality. One should avoid driving if affected with heart attack.

If you have risk factors for ischemic heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tobacco use, diabetes, a strong family history of heart disease or obesity then talk to your doctor. He or she may want to test you for the condition, especially if you have signs or symptoms of narrowed arteries.

People suffering from high cholesterol or blood pressure are at the increased risk of heart attack. Genetic reasons can also cause heart problems or ischemic heart disease to the people. Doctor would conduct tests to ascertain the narrowness in the arteries.

What Questions Can be Expected From the Doctor for Ischemic Heart Disease?

Cardiologist would pose following questions to find the signs and symptoms of ischemic heart disease:

  • Explain your symptoms?
  • Timing of the symptoms?
  • Has the symptoms worsened?
  • Are you suffering chest pain accompanied by breathlessness?
  • Do symptoms worsen with exercise?
  • Family history pertaining to heart issues?
  • Are you suffering from other health conditions?
  • Explain the medications?
  • Did you undergo radiation therapy?
  • Frequency of exercises?
  • What is your regular diet?
  • Are you a smoker? What is the frequency?
  • How much alcohol do you drink on a regular basis?

What You Can Do for Ischemic Heart Disease?

There are many things you can do for ischemic heart disease. It is important to leave smoking and alcohol to improve the quality of life in an impeccable manner. One should also consume health food to ward of any problems in the future. People should leaf a healthy life to prevent heart attack accompanied by stroke.

Better late than never, it is better to adapt healthy lifestyle changes like eliminating smoking, exercising regularly, making changes in eating habits. These changes can aid in fighting against ischemic heart disease, its complications including stroke and a heart attack.

Tests to Diagnose Ischemic Heart Disease

Following diagnostic tests are performed to ascertain the condition of ischemic heart disease:

  • Electrocardiogram or ECG is a test to diagnose ischemic heart disease. ECG can go a long way in the detection of the heart attack or it might find the existing one in progress. Holter monitor plays a very important role in analyzing the heart beat over a period of time. Malfunction is related to the insufficient supply of blood.
  • Echocardiogram test can be used to diagnose ischemic heart disease. It is an important test that deploys sound waves to create the picture of the heart and ascertain whether all the components are working in tandem. Any problem would be the indication of heart attack or either the blood supply.
  • Stress exam can be used to diagnose ischemic heart disease. Stress test is an important aspect of ischemic heart disease diagnostics. For instance ECG examination is carried out to check the functionalities of the heart while you are running on the treadmill. The doctors can use medicines to enhance the functioning of the heart to check the blood flow in the arteries. Sometimes, the blood supply might become constricted over a period of time due to stress. Tracer is released into the blood to find the root cause of the problem.
  • Cardiac catheterization or angiogram can be used to diagnose ischemic heart disease. Cardiac catheterization incorporates the insertion of the dye into the arteries to check the flow of blood in the cardiovascular system. It is accomplished with the help of the tube that is inserted via legs to the heart. If the blockage is encountered, a balloon is pushed to the location where the clogging is cleared in an impeccable manner. Tube would go a long way in opening the arteries.
  • Heart scan can help in diagnosing ischemic heart disease. Computerized tomography plays an important role in checking the calcium deposits in the blood. They are primary sources of blockages in the arteries resulting in ischemic heart disease.
  • Angiogram (CT coronary angiogram) is conducted by inserting dye in the venous system of body to capture the snaps of the arteries of the human heart and it is also useful in diagnosing ischemic heart disease.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 16, 2022

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