Ischemia also known as ischemic heart disease is a major mortality cause worldwide; ischemic heart disease or myocardial ischemia is a pathological condition characterized by insufficient blood supply to the heart muscle. In this condition due to various causes, like hypercholesterolemia or hypertension the coronary arteries become narrowed due to fatty buildups on the blood vessels walls and oxygen doesn’t reach the myocardium, causing tissue necrosis and heart failure.
In coronary artery disease cholesterol deposits accumulate within the cells lining the wall of the coronary arteries. The cholesterol deposits emerge gradually and irregularly in the large branches of the two main coronary arteries which encircle the heart and are the main source of its blood supply
Atherosclerosis is the process which leads to narrowing or hardening of the blood vessels supplying blood to the heart muscle. Ischemia is the incapacity to provide enough oxygen to heart muscle, if the myocardium doesn’t receive oxygen, tissue necrosis may follow and the heart won’t be able to work properly; moreover myocardial infraction and death may follow as well. Also if a blood vessel or artery is blocked, possibly by a blood cloth a heart attack may follow.
Ischemia often causes chest pain or discomfort (angina) and decreased exercise tolerance.
The heart is the body’s oxygen supplier; if the heart fails to pump oxygenate blood to the major systems and organs tissue death may follow within the most important organs liver, kidneys or even the brain.
In order to diagnose the presence of ischemic heart disease there are a series of tests such as EKG test-electrocardiogram that offers a graphical representation of heart functions and that helps the doctor to determine the presence of abnormalities, blood tests, a stress test also known as Treadmill test or a coronary angiogram.
In ischemic heart disease therapy along medication dramatic life changes should follow after being diagnosed with this condition, in other cases angioplasty intervention may be required in order to open the narrowed arteries, if this intervention flails to relieve the symptoms coronary artery bypass operation can be of valuable help, moreover although applicable to a limited number of patients where tissue necrosis affects a large part of the myocardium, a heart transplant can be the only hope of survival.
In most Western countries, ischemic heart disease is one of the most common causes of hospital admission and mortality. Prevention, understood as healthy diet, low in saturated fats, sugar and salt, physical activity, smoking cessation and keeping under control diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol levels, as well as avoiding stress can prevent ischemic heart disease and to lower the risk of further complications.