What is ischemic heart disease?

The same pathology called coronary ischemic disease is known as ischemic heart disease. As the name implies, the underlying process that causes the problem is ischemia, that is, the lack of blood coming to the heart.

By far, the most common cause is arteriosclerosis. When small and large fat plaques form on the walls of the arteries that supply the heart, then the flow to it decreases. Consequently, the heart lacks oxygen to work.

In ischemic heart disease the arteries that clog or decrease their flow are the coronary arteries. These vessels are small ducts that carry blood to the heart muscle, known as myocardium.

Arteriosclerosis does not happen overnight. Unlike, It is a slow process that takes years of training. Little by little, fat, cholesterol, collagen and some inflammation cells such as lymphocytes accumulate on the walls of the arteries.

In developed countries ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of death. It is estimated that of every ten people with this pathology present, in at least five serious episodes such as angina pectoris or acute myocardial infarction occur.

Risk factors of ischemic heart disease

Although the cause par excellence of ischemic heart disease is arteriosclerosis, it is known that there are factors that predispose to suffer from it. Certain natural conditions or life habits make the disease more possible. Among the risk factors we have:

  • Age: older ischemic heart disease becomes more frequent.
  • Being male: the disease is more frequent among men than among women. However, the latter have increased their risk when entering menopause.
  • High cholesterol: If a person has high and constant cholesterol levels, they will be at risk, since it is precisely the fat that is the main component of arteriosclerosis plaques.
  • Tobacco: smokers are much more at risk of ischemic heart disease than nonsmokers. The association between this habit and heart problems has been known for many years.
  • Chronic diseases: There are two pathologies that have as a serious complication myocardial infarction, and these are diabetes mellitus and arterial hypertension. Patients with these diseases must follow a strict medical control so as not to culminate in an episode that can be fatal.
  • Sedentary: The lack of physical activity is behind multiple unhealthy conditions for the human being. In more developed societies the lack of movement in the form of exercise is more noticeable, and therefore the symptoms associated with cardiac ischemia are more frequent.
  • Obesity: hand in hand with many other risk factors, and also in relation to developed societies, obesity is a serious risk factor. High weight generates high blood pressure, diabetes, metabolic dysfunctions that alter cholesterol and, of course, arteriosclerosis.

Arteriosclerosis is the leading cause of ischemic heart disease.

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Types of ischemic heart disease

Ischemic heart disease is silent and develops slowly and progressively until it manifests outside. This manifestation can be basically in the three ways that we detail you now:

1. Stable angina pectoris

It is a pain in the heart area that becomes recurrent, that is, it is repeated with similar intensities. The pain episode doesn't last long, ten minutes on average, although for the patient it seems like an eternity. It is an oppressive pain in the chest, as if another squeezes his chest with great force.

2. Angor pectoris unstable

This is angina that has evolved and has become unpredictable. It is no longer an always equal and repetitive chest pain, but appears at any time, even with the person at rest.

The pain is more intense and radiates from the chest to the left arm and neck. It is the sign that warns about the possibility of a heart attack in the short term. Doctors may, when trying to diagnose it, find no signs on the electrocardiogram.

3. Acute myocardial infarction

Finally, the serious episode that can be fatal in the context of ischemic heart disease is acute myocardial infarction. The pain is intense in the chest, to the point of being unbearable.

Its duration is prolonged and does not yield, sometimes up to twenty minutes or half an hour. Other symptoms accompany it, such as shortness of breath, sweat, vomiting and anxiety. Requires immediate medical attention.

Chest pain is the characteristic symptom of acute myocardial infarction.

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The treatment of ischemic heart disease has three alternatives. They will depend on the clinical picture, how advanced is the obstruction of the coronary arteries and the urgency. These alternatives are:

  • Medicines: The doctor tells a person with coronary artery obstruction the use of various drugs, including platelet antiaggregants.
  • Angioplasty: It is a procedure for relatively stable patients that involves entering the person's circulatory system, through a catheterization, and repairing the obstructions found in the coronary arteries.
  • Surgery: In heart attacks, if the medications administered in the first instance do not work, surgical treatment is carried out. Various surgical techniques exist to return blood flow to the heart muscle, including the bypass.

The fundamental thing will always be the consultation with the doctor to carry out the corresponding studies before the first symptoms of chest pain. Large complications can be avoided with early detection of the disease.