Ischemic heart disease or coronary heart disease is one of the major heart diseases in India. It constitutes more than 80% of all heart diseases in the country. As against popular belief, obesity and sedentary lifestyle are not the only contributory causes. Smoking, diabetes, and lack of health awareness are bigger enemies.
Along with these factors, lack of preventive care and not addressing chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease on time have led to numerous hospitalizations. Being aware of your heart health, and getting a heart screening early on matters the most, especially if you have diabetes or if you smoke.
What is ischemia?
Ischemia is a condition where the blood vessels are unable to supply oxygenated blood to an organ. This condition generally occurs to the heart, brain, and the intestines. When it affects the heart, the condition is called ischemic heart disease. Reduced blood supply to the muscles of the heart leads to numerous complications.
Ischemia occurs when debris like plaque gets collected in the end branches of the arteries. This narrows the pathway of blood flow thereby reducing oxygen-rich blood supply. When ischemia occurs to the coronary arteries, this condition leads to coronary artery disease.
What is ischemic heart disease?
Ischemic heart disease, coronary artery disease or coronary heart disease are one and the same. It is a condition in which the arteries of the heart get narrow. This reduces the blood supply to the muscles of the heart.
Narrowing of the heart arteries can occur due to the presence of a blood clot, or the buildup of plaque in a process called atherosclerosis. Ischemic heart disease or heart disease generally manifests in the form of heart problem symptoms.
A major complication of ischemic heart disease results in the form of a heart attack. When the blood supply to the heart muscle is totally blocked, it causes a heart attack. Other complications include ischemic cardiomyopathy. In ischemic cardiomyopathy, due to the lack of blood supply to certain parts of the heart muscle, the left ventricle gets enlarged and weak. This leads to heart failure.
In early stages, when less than half of the coronary arteries are blocked, though the function of the heart is limited, people may not experience any visible symptoms of heart disease. However, as the buildup of plaque increases with atherosclerosis, symptoms of heart disease do appear.
Symptoms of ischemic heart disease
Ischemic heart disease, or coronary heart disease symptoms generally occur when there is physical exertion, or emotional distress. These manifest in the form of angina symptoms.
In most cases, early symptoms of heart disease start in the form of discomfort and shortness of breath in case of physical exertion.
Ischemic or coronary heart disease symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath after physical stress, mild physical activity, or even at rest
- Pain in the chest that lasts for hours
- Left shoulder pain
- Pain between shoulder blades
- Cold sweat
- Feeling of nausea
Know more about ischemic heart disease, its diagnosis and complications here