Ischemic heart disease



What is ischemic heart disease?

Ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease, describes what happens when your heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries – the plaque. Cholesterol in your arteries and inflammation are usually to blame for coronary artery disease.

When plaque builds up, they narrow the coronary arteries, decreasing blood flow to your heart. So it may cause chest pain, shortness of breath, or other signs and symptoms of coronary artery disease. A complete blockage can cause a heart attack.

How common is ischemic heart disease?

This health condition is extremely common. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of ischemic heart disease?

The common symptoms of ischemic heart disease are:

  • Chest pain;
  • Pain in other parts of the body such as arms, jaw, neck, back and abdomen;
  • Lightheadedness;
  • Sweating;
  • Nausea;
  • Breathlessness.

 There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes ischemic heart disease?

Ischemic heart disease is thought to begin with damage or injury to the inner layer of a coronary artery, sometimes as the early childhood. The damage may be caused by various factors, including:

  • Smoking;
  • High blood pressure;
  • High cholesterol;
  • Diabetes or insulin resistance;
  • Sedentary lifestyle.

Once the inner wall of an artery is damaged, fatty deposits made of cholesterol and other cellular waste products tend to accumulate at the site of injury in a process called atherosclerosis. If the surface of the plaque breaks or ruptures, blood cells will clump at the site and try to repair the artery. This clump can block the artery, leading to a heart attack.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for ischemic heart disease?

There are many risk factors for ischemic heart disease, such as:

  • Simply getting older increases your risk of damaged and narrowed arteries.
  • Men are generally at greater risk of coronary artery disease. However, the risk for women increases after menopause.
  • Family history.Your risk is highest if your father or a brother was diagnosed with heart disease before age 55 or if your mother or a sister developed it before age 65.
  • Either people who smoke or the exposed people have an increased risk of heart disease.
  • High blood pressure.Uncontrolled high blood pressure can result in hardening and thickening of your arteries, narrowing the channel through which blood can flow.
  • High blood cholesterol levels.High levels of cholesterol in your blood can increase the risk of formation of plaques and atherosclerosis.
  • Diabetes is associated with the increased risk of coronary artery disease. Type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease share similar risk factors, such as obesity and high blood pressure.
  • Overweight or obesity.Excess weight typically worsens other risk factors.
  • Physical inactivity.Lack of exercise is also linked with coronary artery disease and some of its risk factors.
  • High stress.Unrelieved stress in your life may damage your arteries as well as worsen other risk factors for coronary artery disease.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is ischemic heart disease diagnosed?

The doctor will ask you about your symptoms, medical history, and risk factors. Then a physical exam will be taken. There are some tests you might experience, including an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), echocardiogram, exercise stress tests, electron beam (ultrafast), CT scans, cardiac catheterization, and others. These tests help your doctor know the extent of your coronary heart disease condition.

How is ischemic heart disease treated?

Some treatments for ischemic heart disease can involve:

  • Lifestyle changes such as quit smoking; avoid processed foods; adopt a low trans-fat, low salt, and low sugar diet. Keep your blood sugar in control in case you have diabetes.
  • Medications, drugs can be used to treat coronary artery disease, including cholesterol-modifying medications., aspirin, beta blockers, nitroglycerin, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs).
  • Surgery and other procedures are commonly used to treat coronary artery disease including angioplasty and stent placement (percutaneous coronary revascularization), coronary artery bypass surgery.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage ischemic heart disease?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with ischemic heart disease:

  • Stop smoking;
  • Control your blood pressure;
  • Check your cholesterol;
  • Keep diabetes under control;
  • Physical activities;
  • Eat healthy foods;
  • Maintain a healthy weight;
  • Manage stress.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: November 16, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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