Risk Factors, Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment of Ischemic Heart Disease
Ischemic heart disease is a severe condition that accounts for approximately 40% of cardiovascular disease-related deaths worldwide. Understanding this dangerous disease is essential. Let's delve into the details.
1. Defining Ischemic Heart Disease
Ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease or coronary heart disease, occurs when the coronary arteries narrow or become blocked, resulting in insufficient blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients to the heart.
2. Causes of Ischemic Heart Disease
Ischemic heart disease develops when blood flow to the heart muscle is reduced due to partial or complete blockage of a coronary artery. The primary cause of myocardial ischemia is atherosclerosis, a condition that leads to the narrowing or complete blockage of the heart's blood vessels. Other factors that can trigger coronary artery spasms and result in myocardial ischemia include smoking and stress.
3. Individuals Susceptible to Ischemic Heart Disease
Certain groups of people are more susceptible to ischemic heart disease, including:
- Men aged over 45 and women aged over 55 (as women below 55 years of age typically menstruate and their ovaries secrete hormones that protect the endothelial lining of blood vessels and lower blood fat, reducing the risk of ischemic heart disease).
- Individuals with hypertension.
- Diabetic individuals.
- Those leading a sedentary lifestyle.
- Individuals experiencing frequent stress and anxiety.
4. Symptoms of Ischemic Heart Disease
Ischemic heart disease can manifest in two forms: with or without chest pain.
The symptoms vary accordingly:
Without chest pain (silent ischemic heart disease):
This form is more common among elderly patients and those with diabetes. Patients do not experience any chest pain, and the disease is often detected only through an electrocardiogram. As a result, many patients underestimate the condition and neglect treatment, increasing the risk of complications such as heart attack and sudden death.
With chest pain:
- Left-sided chest pain, discomfort, or a heavy feeling behind the sternum, which may radiate to the neck, jaw, left shoulder, and left arm. Rest or the use of coronary vasodilators can provide relief.
- Additional symptoms may include palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.
- The duration of pain is typically a few seconds to a few minutes, rarely exceeding 5 minutes. If the pain persists for more than 15-20 minutes, it should be considered a heart attack, and immediate medical attention is necessary.
- In the early stages, chest pain may occur only during exertion (after physical exertion, prolonged walking, or intense emotional stress). As the disease progresses, the pain may occur even at rest. Chest pain at rest without any apparent triggers is a warning sign of a critical condition, requiring close monitoring and active treatment to prevent myocardial infarction and potential fatality.
5. Prevention of Ischemic Heart Disease
Ischemic heart disease is preventable through healthy lifestyle choices, proper nutrition, and management of underlying conditions. Here are some preventive measures:
Adopt a healthy lifestyle:
- Avoid smoking.
- Engage in regular exercise of appropriate intensity based on individual fitness levels.
- Maintain an ideal weight and avoid overweight or obesity.
- Minimize stress as much as possible.
- Limit the intake of saturated fats.
- Consume ample amounts of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
6. Treatment of Ischemic Heart Disease
Ischemic heart disease is treatable, and the specific treatment approach depends on each case. Medical professionals may recommend interventions such as angioplasty and stenting (percutaneous coronary intervention - PCI) or coronary artery bypass surgery for severe cases.
In conclusion, understanding the risk factors, symptoms, prevention measures, and available treatments for ischemic heart disease is crucial. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, addressing underlying conditions, and seeking appropriate medical care, individuals can minimize the impact of this potentially life-threatening disease.