What is Ischemic Heart Disease? Are You at Risk?

Ischemic heart disease is defined as decreased blood flow to the heart due to narrowed coronary arteries. The obstruction results from cholesterol deposits sticking to the artery wall, interrupting the flow of blood to the heart. The deposits harden causing hardening of the arteries. This is called atherosclerosis, which is a medical term sometimes interchanged with arteriosclerosis. Both have the same affect, whereby both impede blood flow to the heart.

Arteriosclerosis, or plaque build up, is common factor in Ischemic heart disease. Plaque, a result of high cholesterol and triglycerides levels, builds up in the vessels that feed the heart causing blockage to occur. This interferes with blood flow to the heart and terminates in heart attack symptoms to occur. The patient may exhibit signs ranging from shortness of breath to irregular heartbeats, and chest pain. Sometimes, there are no symptoms due to damage to the nerves that surround the heart due to heart disease.

As time passes, plaque deposits narrow the arteries causing efficient blood flow, which can also lead to the development of a type of Ischemic heart disease called angina. Angina Pectoris, or strangling, is chest pain caused by lack of oxygen to the heart due to poor blood supply. This puts the patient at extremely high risk for heart attack and cardiac arrhythmia.

People who are at risk for ischemic heart problems most likely have a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes. The risks, in most instances, can be alleviated or eliminated altogether by drastic changes in lifestyle such as losing weight and stopping smoking. While these changes may reduce risks, they do not necessarily cure ischemic heart problems that is already present. If the person has had a previous heart attack, they have an increased for having another heart attack within 5 years. Regular visits with your physician to monitor for any changes in the patient's condition will alert the physician to any potential problems that may crop up and slow down the rate of disease progression.

The good news about ischemic heart disease is it can be prevented, or at least lessen it's severity. The answer is simple but may not be easy to implement. Its not easy to change the way we have been been doing things for the past 20 to 30 years, but when you think of the alternative, change can be a good thing.

Barb Hicks is a featured health writer on Clivir.com - The Free Learning Community Site. She provides more information on Women Heart Disease and Ischemic Heart Disease on Clivir.

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