Reduced blood flow to the heart causes myocardial ischemia, which prevents the heart muscle from getting enough oxygen. This reduced blood flow can be caused by the partial or complete blockage of the heart arteries.
The condition known as cardiac ischemia or myocardial ischemia decreases the heart’s capacity to pump blood. A heart attack can result from a sudden, serious obstruction of a cardiac artery. Additionally, myocardial ischemia might result in dangerously irregular cardiac rhythms.
Myocardial ischemia is treated by increasing blood flow to the heart muscle. Medication, an angioplasty procedure to open blocked arteries, or bypass surgery are all possible forms of treatment.
Myocardial ischemia can be treated and prevented by adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Myocardial ischemia can occur without any warning signs or symptoms (silent ischemia). When they do, chest pressure or pain occurs on the left side of the body (angina pectoris) is the most common symptom. Other symptoms that women, older persons, and diabetics may experience include:
- Pain on the jaw, neck, shoulder or arm
- Breathe shortness during exercise or activities
- The heart beats very fast
- Nausea and vomiting
Two types of angina:
- Stable angina, typically stops shortly after you relax or may be managed by taking medication.
- Unstable angina, which may occur at any moment, including when you’re resting or asleep. In some cases, taking medicine won’t make it go away.
If you experience severe chest discomfort or chest pain that won’t go away, get emergency medical attention.
When the blood flow in one or more of your coronary arteries is reduced, it can cause myocardial ischemia. Your heart muscle receives less oxygen due to the reduced blood flow.
As arteries narrow over time, myocardial ischemia may gradually occur. Or, it might happen quickly if an artery suddenly becomes occluded.
The following conditions may cause myocardial ischemia:
- Coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis). The most common reason for myocardial ischemia is atherosclerosis. Your arterial walls develop plaques formed primarily of cholesterol that obstruct the blood flow.
- Blood clot. Atherosclerosis-related plaques have the chance to rupture and result in a blood clot. A heart attack could occur if the clot blocks an artery and causes abrupt, severe myocardial ischemia. Rarely, a blood clot from another part of the body may move to the coronary artery.
- Coronary artery spasm. This momentary tightening of the arterial wall muscles can shortly reduce or stop blood flow to a portion of the heart muscle.
Myocardial ischemia-related chest pain may be brought on by:
- Physical exertion
- Emotional stress
- Overconsumption of food
- Sexual intercourse
- Using cocaine
- Cold temperatures
Your risk of myocardial ischemia may be elevated by the following factors:
- Smoking. The inner lining of arteries can get damaged by smoking and prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke. The damage may enable the buildup of cholesterol and other material deposits, which would then impair coronary artery blood flow. Smoking can raise the risk of blood clots and cause the coronary arteries to spasm.
- Type 1 and type 2 diabetes. An increased risk of myocardial ischemia, heart attacks, and other heart issues is associated with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
- High blood pressure. Atherosclerosis can be sped up over time by high blood pressure, which can lead to impaired coronary artery.
- High blood cholesterol level. The deposits that can constrict your coronary arteries are largely made up of cholesterol. A diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol or a genetic disorder may both contribute to a high amount of “bad” cholesterol (Low-density Lipoprotein, or LDL) in your blood.
- High blood triglyceride level. Another type of blood fat, which may also be a factor in atherosclerosis.
- Obesity. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol are all linked to obesity.
- Waist circumference. High blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease are all more likely in people with waists larger than 35 inches (89 centimeters) for women and 40 inches (102 centimeters) for men.
- Lack of physical exertion. Obesity and increased cholesterol and triglyceride levels are connected to insufficient exercise. Regular aerobic exercise improves heart health, which lowers the risk of myocardial ischemia and heart attacks in people. Blood pressure is also lowered by exercise.