Ischemic heart diseases are the number two cause of death in Canada and the number one cause of death in the United States.
In Canada, around 8.3% of Canadians 20 years of age or above suffer from heart disease.
In Alberta, based on data from previous years, there is a range of 5.9 to 7.2% probability of dying within the first 30 days of hospital admission due to a heart attack.
What is Ischemic Heart Disease?
Ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease, is a condition in which the blood flow to the heart muscle is reduced. This can happen as a result of narrowed or blocked coronary arteries, which are the blood vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart. When the heart doesn’t get enough blood, it can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, and other symptoms.
The most common cause of narrowed or blocked coronary arteries is atherosclerosis, a condition in which plaque builds up on the inner walls of the arteries. Plaque is made up of cholesterol, fat, and other substances found in the blood. Over time, this plaque can harden and narrow the arteries, reducing blood flow to the heart.
Symptoms of Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD)
Symptoms of ischemic heart disease can include chest pain, also known as angina, which can feel like a pressing or squeezing sensation in the chest. Other symptoms may include shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness. In some cases, ischemic heart disease may not cause any symptoms, which is why it is important to see a doctor for regular check-ups and to have your risk factors assessed.
Diagnosis and Tests
Diagnosis of ischemic heart disease is typically based on a combination of factors, including a physical examination, medical history, and various tests. Some common tests that may be used to diagnose ischemic heart disease include an electrocardiogram (ECG), which measures the electrical activity of the heart, and a stress test, which involves exercising while your heart is being monitored.
Other tests that may be done include a chest X-ray, an echocardiogram, and a coronary angiogram.
Risk factors for ischemic heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, being overweight or obese, and a family history of the condition. In addition, older age, being male, and having a sedentary lifestyle are also associated with an increased risk of developing ischemic heart disease.
Treatment of ischemic heart disease is aimed at improving blood flow to the heart and reducing the risk of complications. This may include lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and managing stress.
In addition, medication may be prescribed to help control risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to open blocked arteries or to bypass narrowed arteries.
Interesting thing if admitted to the emergency
Usually, when a patient is admitted to the emergency with symptoms resembling IHD (especially heart attacks), the nurses will give her some chewable aspirin to help as a blood thinner in a bid to protect her important arteries.
How to prevent IHD
There are many things you can do to reduce your risk of IHD. These include:
- quitting smoking
- eating a healthy diet
- exercising regularly
- maintaining a healthy weight
- managing your stress
- controlling your blood pressure
- controlling your cholesterol levels
Ischemic heart disease is a serious condition that can lead to heart attack or heart failure if it is not treated. If you have risk factors for ischemic heart disease, it is important to see a doctor for regular check-ups and to discuss ways to reduce your risk. By taking steps to manage your risk factors and getting treatment if needed, you can help prevent the development of ischemic heart disease and improve your heart health.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, October 15). Ischemic Heart Disease. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/ischemic_heart_disease.htm 2. American Heart Association. (n.d.). Ischemic Heart Disease. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/ischemic-heart-disease
3. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2019, June 12). Ischemic Heart Disease. Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/ischemic-heart-disease
4. Mayo Clinic. (2020, August 28). Ischemic Heart Disease. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ischemic-heart-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20350597