Ischemic Heart Disease (Angina, Myocardial Infarction, Atherosclerosis and Arteriosclerosis) : Pharmaceutical Guidelines -->

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Ischemic Heart Disease (Angina, Myocardial Infarction, Atherosclerosis and Arteriosclerosis)

In ischemic heart disease, blood flow to part of the heart is insufficient, resulting in recurring chest pains or discomfort.

Ischemic Heart Disease

In ischemic heart disease, blood flow to part of the heart is insufficient, resulting in recurring chest pains or discomfort. This condition usually occurs as a result of physical exercise or excitement, as the heart requires more blood flow. World-wide, ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of death. When cholesterol particles in the blood begin to accumulate in the walls of blood vessels that supply the heart with blood, it can lead to ischemic heart disease. Over time, plaque can develop. Once the plaques are formed, the arteries become narrow, reducing blood flow. Heart muscle oxygenation is decreased when blood flow is restricted due to a cardiovascular event. Ischemic heart disease can cause neither symptoms nor serious consequences to people. In fact, some people have no symptoms at all, while others suffer from severe chest pain (angina) and shortness of breath. Ischemic heart disease can be successfully treated by changing lifestyle, taking medication, and having surgery. To reduce your risk even more, be physically active, don't smoke, and maintain a healthy weight in addition to eating a low-fat, low-sodium diet.

Angina

Chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart is known as angina. Heart attacks are other causes of angina. When angina occurs, it can be described as feeling as though your chest is pressing, heaviness, tight, or squeezing. Many people with angina report feeling as if a vise is pressing down on their chest or a heavy weight is pressing down on their chest. The discomfort of indigestion can still seem like angina, even though the pain is common.

Symptoms

Chest pain, squeezing, feeling full or pressure are some of the angina symptoms. If you experience pain in your arms, neck, jaw, or shoulders, you may also experience pain in your back and shoulders. A person suffering from angina may also experience the following symptoms:
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
Angina is most commonly associated with stable angina. This is caused by exertion and goes away after resting. Angina, for example, is a pain you feel when you're walking uphill or during cold weather.

Myocardial Infraction

A myocardial infarction (commonly called a heart attack) occurs when there is insufficient blood flow to the heart muscle. One or more of your heart's arteries can become blocked for a variety of reasons; however, it usually results from a blockage. A blockage in your heart's arteries causes the heart muscle to die. When blood flow to the heart is not restored fast, a heart attack may lead to permanent heart damage and death.

Heart attacks cause a part of the heart muscle to die since blood flow stops or drops far below normal. Because of a lack of blood flow, a part of your heart may not be able to pump properly, which disrupts the overall pumping sequence. When blood flow to the rest of your body is reduced or even stopped, it can lead to death if left untreated.

Causes

Heart attacks are most often caused by a blockage in a blood vessel supplying your heart. Often, plaque can clog your arteries because it sticks to the inside surface of them (just as grease poured down your kitchen sink can clog your home plumbing). Atherosclerosis is the result of that buildup. There is a possibility that plaque deposits inside coronary (heart) arteries can rupture or break, resulting in a blood clot forming. Heart attacks are caused by blood clots blocking an artery and preventing blood from reaching the heart. In the absence of a blockage, there is a chance of developing a heart attack, though this occurs only 5% of the time. Reasons for these kinds of heart attacks include:

  • An artery spasm - It has a muscular lining that allows your blood vessels to expand or contract as required. If those muscles twitch or spasm, blood flow to the heart can be interrupted.
  • Rare conditions include - A disease causing unusual narrowing of the blood vessels would be an example of this.
  • Trauma - The coronary arteries may be torn or ruptured due to trauma.
  • Objects lodged in other parts of the body - The buildup of blood clots and air bubbles in arteries leads to an embolism.
  • Electrolyte imbalances - When your blood contains too much potassium or too little potassium, a heart attack can result.
  • Eating disorder - Heart damage can occur from eating disorders over time, eventually leading to a heart attack.

Atherosclerosis & Arteriosclerosis

Occasionally, arterial sclerosis and atherosclerosis are used interchangeably, but they mean different things.

Arterial sclerosis is caused by thinned and stiffened arteries, which prevent blood from flowing freely to the organs and tissues. Hardening of the arteries is a condition caused by the hardening of artery walls over time, also known as atherosclerosis.

One such condition is atherosclerosis.

As the name implies, atherosclerosis is the accumulation of fat, cholesterol, and other substances inside and on the walls of your arteries. These substances are called plaques. Plaque can lead to narrowing of your arteries, cutting off blood flow. Plaques can also burst, causing blood clots to form.

Atherosclerosis affects arteries anywhere in the body, not just those in the heart. Treatment is available for atherosclerosis. You can prevent atherosclerosis by following a healthy lifestyle.

Causes

The onset of atherosclerosis in childhood may be early. An artery's inner lining is often damaged or injured in the beginning of atherosclerosis, but the exact cause is unknown. It may occur as a result of:
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking and many other sources of tobacco
  • High blood pressure
  • Unknown causes of inflammation or diseases such as arthritis, lupus, psoriasis or inflammatory bowel disease may contribute to inflammation
  • High triglycerides
If an artery's inner lining is damaged, blood cells and other substances tend to clump at the injury site and increase there. In addition to the fatty deposits (plaque) containing cholesterol and other cellular products, hardened plaque also builds up at the injury site and narrows your arteries over time. Blood supply to organs and tissues is inadequate, so they cannot function as they should. As the fat deposits break down, bits and pieces may enter your bloodstream.

The smooth surface of a ruptured plaque could allow cholesterol and other substances to enter the bloodstream. During a heart attack, for example, blockage in blood flow can cause a blockage of the heart due to an obstruction in blood flow. Furthermore, if blood clots reach another part of your body, they can restrict blood flow to that organ.
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Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of Pharmaceutical Guidelines, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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