Ischemia Definition: Symptoms And Treatment

IschemiaIschemia heart disease is most often known as coronary artery disease and is the leading cause of death in the United States. Ischemia definition refers to a condition in which narrowed arterial walls limit the amount of blood and oxygen that reach the heart. These arteries are narrowed by a buildup of cholesterol plaque. When oxygen is unable to be delivered to the heart, the supply of new blood is effected, triggering a lack of oxygen in the brain and kidneys, resulting in damaged tissue and organ failure. Many people suffer from the malady without even knowing what is ischemia. The term silent ischemia is also used as many sufferers feel no pain and can have heart attacks without any notice. The greatest risk groups are those that have diabetes or have previously had heart attacks.

While the exact cause of what is ischemia has not been determined, several risk factors exist that increase the likelihood of having the disease including smoking, hypertension, type A personality, atherosclerosis, poor nutrition, obesity, elevated cholesterol, high-fat diet, or a family history of ischemia. Many of these risk factors are behavioral and being as such, proactive prevention is the best way of dealing with the condition.

The earliest stages of ischemia definition may have no symptoms. The lack of noticeable warning signs is why the disease is so dangerous and why it is classified as an acute heart condition. In the later stages ischemia symptoms may be present in the form of angina, with a burning, heaviness, or tightness in the chest that can spread to the neck, jaw, shoulder blade, and left arm. These ischemia symptoms become more noticeable in colder weather and can also be triggered by emotional stress or moving from a hot area to a cold area abruptly.

The best way to treat ischemia is by prevention. People who have a number of risk factors should take care to be tested for ischemia. Preventative measures that are commonly used by patients who anticipate potential ischemia complications are to cease smoking, maintain ideal body weight, lower emotional stress, and treat high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Drugs also exist in four types to combat the possible complications of the condition: beta-blockers, nitrates, calcium channel antagonists, and anti-platelet drugs. Beta-blockers lower the idle heart rate, thus also lowering the levels of oxygen needed by the heart.

Nitrates work by dilating the blood vessels and angina a\sufferers should always keep a ready supply on hand. Calcium channel antagonists work similar to beta-blockers in that they also reduce the normal heart rate. In fact, some tachycardia patients use a combination of the drugs to prevent a rapid heart rate. Anti-platelet drugs such as aspirin work by binding to platelets, thus inhibiting clots from forming on the arterial walls. For those patients who have already had complications it may be necessary to have balloon angioplasty or bypass surgery for coronary arteries. If nothing else has succeeded and the patient’s life is endangered, then a heart transplant may be done to cure ischemia heart disease.