Ischemia

Table of Contents:

  1. What is ischemia?
  2. Symptoms
  3. Diagnosis of ischemia
  4. What are the causes?
  5. Can it be prevented?
  6. Treatment
  7. Medical specialists

What is ischemia?

Ischemia is the reduction of blood flow in the tissues of the human body that causes a decrease in the amount of oxygen and nutrients in the affected area: if these two fundamental elements of the cells are missing, the consequences on the affected tissues and organs can be very serious, sometimes leading to necrosis.

Ischemia can occur in any part of the body, but the most affected organs are usually the heart, brain, intestine and fingers and toes.

Symptoms of ischemia

Symptoms depend on the tissue or organ affected by ischemia.

For example, ischemic heart disease is characterized by chest pain, shortness of breath (dyspnea), nausea and irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia), while cerebral ischemia causes paralysis or numbness of the face and limbs, visual and mobility difficulties, confusion and pupil abnormalities.

Some people with myocardial ischemia may also have no signs or symptoms, while other groups such as women, the elderly and people with diabetes may have them more frequently, these being:

  • Neck or jaw pain
  • Arm or shoulder pain
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue

Ischemia is a reduction in blood flow.

Diagnosis of ischemia

Diagnosis of ischemia begins with objective examination of symptoms, followed by a series of specific instrumental tests, such as electrocardiogram, blood tests and X-rays.

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What are the causes of ischemia?

Ischemia is caused by an obstruction of the arterial vessels, resulting from embolism, thrombosis or trauma. However, there are some risk factors that can trigger ischemia more easily, among others:

  • Heart rhythm disturbances
  • Disorders of the heart muscle, coronary arteries or mitral valve.
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Obesity
  • Smoke
  • Advanced age

Can it be prevented?

It is difficult to say for sure what can be done to prevent the onset of ischemia, but what is clear is that you are more likely to avoid it if you lead a healthy life, practice physical activity, follow the right diet, and avoid smoking and alcohol.

Treatments for ischemia

Several treatments are commonly used to restore blood flow to tissues and organs affected by ischemia, such as angioplasty, arterial or coronary artery bypass grafting, and administration of thrombolytic drugs.

If the patient has already suffered ischemia, it is likely that he/she is predisposed to suffer relapses and for this reason there are preventive treatments based on anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs.

Which specialist should be consulted?

In the case of ischemia, you should contact specialists in angiology and vascular surgery.