Ischemic heart disease is characterized most often by a reduced supply of blood to the heart muscle. Also known as "coronary artery disease", this highly-dangerous condition is the leading cause of death within most western countries. The term "ischemia" itself refers to a reduced blood supply, and the disease has the effect of narrowing or blocking the blood vessels around the heart as a result of deposited cholesterol within the artery walls.

The more a blockage becomes evident, the more the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the heart is reduced – restricting the function of the organ. As a result, a portion of the heart may suddenly be deprived of its blood supply, creating dead heart tissue in that area which causes a heart attack. Usually, this health problem feels like angina – particularly if a large area is affected.

The Symptoms of Ischemic Heart Disease:

Obviously, the symptoms that accompany an ischemic heart disease can vary from one case to the next. It is possible for some patients to suffer from early-stage heart disease conditions without experiencing any symptoms whatsoever. However, as the arteries continue to become narrower, and blood flow is increasingly impaired, some of the most common symptoms you may experience include:

  • Acute chest pain and pressure – often referred to as angina
  • Shortness of breath, or trouble breathing normally
  • Sudden exhaustion or extreme feelings of fatigue
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting spells
  • Painful heart palpitations
  • Swelling in the abdomen, feet, and legs
  • Issues with sleeping
  • Congestion or coughing caused by fluid in the lungs

Ischemic Heart Disease Treatment Options:

The options that a doctor will suggest in order to treat ischemic heart disease will generally change according to how much damage may have already been done to your heart. In some cases, medications, and even surgery may be necessary. However, it's also worth noting that you can improve your long-term health even after an issue with ischemic heart disease, by adopting healthier lifestyle choices and making changes to damaging habits such as smoking and excessive drinking.

Ask your doctor for any recommendations he or she may have to help you deal with a coronary artery disease. Usually, it's a good idea to stick to a diet that is low in sodium and cholesterol. In the meantime, you'll likely have to use medications as a way of managing and easing symptoms, and reducing the chances of complications. Depending on your particular situation, your doctor may prescribe beta-blockers to reduce your heart rate, aldosterone inhibitors that remove excess fluid from the body, calcium channel blockers to widen arteries, or diuretics.

Some of the surgical procedures used for coronary artery disease, include implanting a pacemaker to normalize heart rate, stents to hold arteries open, angioplasty to open narrow arteries, radiation therapy, and atherectomy to remove plaque in arteries. In particularly serious circumstances, coronary bypass surgery may be used to improve the flow of blood to the heart. Through this measure, a healthy artery or vein is surgically removed to be placed near the blocked one – allowing the blood to bypass the issue.