Ischemic heart disease is the term used to define damage to the heart muscle (myocardium) due to insufficient blood and oxygen supply. The most common reason is a major blockage of the coronary arteries, which carry blood to the myocardium itself.
What are the differences between ischemic heart disease and infarction?
Infarction is defined as the presence of an area of necrosis (dead tissue) in the myocardium. It almost always occurs due to the sudden obstruction of one of the coronary arteries, which produces a complete blockage of blood flow to the heart muscle.
It could be said that infarction is the most advanced and serious expression of ischemic heart disease.
What are the causes of ischemic heart disease?
There are several predisposing factors for developing ischemic heart disease: arterial hypertension, high cholesterol levels, diabetes mellitus, active smoking and family history (genetic factors), among others. A healthy lifestyle (regular physical exercise, Mediterranean diet, not smoking, avoiding obesity) has been shown to clearly reduce the risk of ischemic heart disease.
What are the symptoms? How can I know if I am suffering a heart attack?
The most frequent symptoms of a heart attack are usually sudden onset of pain or pressure in the chest, shortness of breath or a feeling of intense general malaise with nausea. Sometimes the pain may appear in the neck, back or even in the left arm. In the face of these warning signs or the suspicion of suffering a heart attack, it is advisable to seek urgent medical attention to confirm or rule out the diagnosis. Cardiology specialists perform an electrocardiogram early on, as this is the best way to identify if it is really a heart attack.
What are the treatments for ischemic heart disease?
The most commonly used drugs in chronic patients are aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) for its antiplatelet effect and statins, which lower blood cholesterol and stabilize atheroma plaques in the arteries. It is also common to use drugs for arterial hypertension or to control angina episodes.
When the onset is sudden in the form of an infarction, in addition to drugs, the ideal treatment is to perform a catheterization as soon as possible to unblock the coronary artery that is causing the infarction, and thus allow the blood to circulate again.
What percentage of the population suffers from ischemic heart disease and what is its lethal incidence?
Ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of death in advanced countries, either abruptly due to a heart attack or cardiac arrest, or chronically due to the development of heart failure. The older the person is, the more frequent its presence, although in many cases its debut is in young people, under 50 years of age.