Ischaemic Heart Disease
Heart disease is a catch-all phrase for a variety of conditions that affect the heart’s structure and function. Coronary heart disease is a type of heart disease that develops when the arteries of the heart cannot deliver enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart. It is the leading cause of death in the United States. Coronary heart disease is often caused by the buildup of plaque, a waxy substance, inside the lining of larger coronary arteries. This buildup can partially or totally block blood flow in the large arteries of the heart. Some types of this condition may be caused by disease or injury affecting how the arteries work in the heart. Coronary microvascular disease is another type of coronary heart disease. It occurs when the heart’s tiny blood vessels do not work normally. Symptoms of coronary heart disease may be different from person to person even if they have the same type of coronary heart disease. However, because many people have no symptoms, they do not know they have coronary heart disease until they have chest pain, a heart attack, or sudden cardiac arrest.
Causes of coronary heart disease (CHD)
Coronary heart disease is the term that describes what happens when your heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries. Over time, the walls of your arteries can become furred up with fatty deposits. This process is known as atherosclerosis and the fatty deposits are called atheroma. Atherosclerosis can be caused by lifestyle factors, such as smoking and regularly drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. You’re also more at risk of getting atherosclerosis if you have conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure (hypertension) or diabetes.
Symptoms of coronary heart disease (CHD)
The main symptoms of coronary heart disease are:
- chest pain (angina)
- shortness of breath
- pain throughout the body
- feeling faint
- feeling sick (nausea)
But not everyone has the same symptoms and some people may not have any before coronary heart disease is diagnosed.
An acute coronary event, such as a heart attack, may cause the following symptoms:
- Angina, which can feel like pressure, squeezing, burning, or tightness during physical activity. The pain or discomfort usually starts behind the breastbone, but it can also occur in the arms, shoulders, jaw, throat, or back. The pain may feel like indigestion.
- Cold sweats
- Nausea or a feeling of indigestion
- Neck pain
- Shortness of breath, especially with activity
- Sleep disturbances
Women are somewhat less likely than men to experience chest pain. Instead, they are more likely to experience:
- Pressure or tightness in the chest
- Stomach pain
Women are also more likely than men to have no symptoms of coronary heart disease.
Chronic (long-term) coronary heart disease can cause symptoms such as the following:
- Shortness of breath with physical activity
- Neck pain
The symptoms may get worse as the buildup of plaque continues to narrow the coronary arteries. Chest pain or discomfort that does not go away or happens more often or while you are resting might be a sign of a heart attack.