Myocardial ischemia graphMyocardial ischemia, also known as cardiac ischemia, usually occurs when blood flow to the heart muscle is decreased by a partial or complete blockage of the coronary arteries (the heart’s arteries). This blood flow decrease reduces oxygen supply to the heart, which can damage to the heart muscle by reducing its capacity to pump efficiently.

Myocardial ischemia may occur slowly as arteries become blocked over time, or when an artery becomes blocked suddenly. If a coronary artery block happens suddenly, a heart attack may occur.


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Myocardial ischemia symptoms and causes

The condition may not cause any symptoms, and in those cases the patient suffers from what is known as “silent ischemia.” When it does cause symptoms, they include chest pressure or pain (typically on the left side), neck, jaw, shoulder or arm pain, clammy skin, short breathing, or nausea and vomit.

Among the factors that may cause myocardial ischemia are coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis), a blood clot, coronary artery spasms, and some severe illnesses. The risk factors for developing the condition include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels, lack of physical activity, obesity, and family history of heart attack or coronary artery disease.


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Myocardial ischemia

Myocardial ischemia complications

The heart attack scenario (myocardial infarction) emerges when a coronary artery is completely blocked and the lack of blood and oxygen destroys part of the heart muscle, causing serious and in some cases fatal heart damage.

Another possible complication is arrhythmia, or an irregular heart rhythm, which happens when the heart doesn’t receive enough oxygen: electrical impulses in the heart that coordinate heartbeats may malfunction, leaving it to beat too fast, too slow or irregularly. If the myocardial ischemia damages the heart muscle itself, a heart failure may occur, leading to a decrease in the heart’s capacity to pump blood to the body.

Myocardial ischemia treatment and prevention

Treatment for myocardial ischemia is aimed at improving blood flow to the heart muscle and may include drugs or a procedure to open blocked arteries or coronary artery bypass surgery. Keeping a healthy lifestyle is crucial both in preventing and treating myocardial ischemia.

Medications like aspirin (a blood thinner), Beta blockers (to relax the heart muscles), Nitroglycerin (to momentarily open the arteries), cholesterol lowering drugs, Calcium channel blockers, and Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, can be used as treatments for myocardial ischemia, depending on the patient’s medical history. In cases of Myocardial Infarct, the surgical procedures usually are Angioplasty and Stenting or Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery.

It’s also advisable to avoid some activities that are not heart-healthy, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, or bad nutrition.  One should watch for high blood pressure, high levels of serum cholesterol, obesity and diabetes. Dieting and doing regular exercise play a significant role in managing heart-related maladies.  In addition, it is vital to have regular checkups and screenings, as early detection and quick treatment are essential to prevent myocardial ischemia complications.


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