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What is ischemic heart disease?

Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics

Ischemic heart disease is also called coronary artery disease. This is the buildup of cholesterol plaques within the coronary arteries, which are the small, but very important blood vessels that supply the heart muscle with its blood supply that it needs to live and function. If the blockages are partial, or chronic, the patient may have angina, an exertional chest pain. If the blockage is more sudden, or acute, then heart damage (heart attack) may ensue.

Celeste Robb-Nicholson
Internal Medicine
Ischemic heart disease is reduced blood flow to the heart. According to the classic model of the disease, trouble begins when plaque builds up inside a coronary artery, which eventually thickens and hardens, obstructing blood flow. The newer view of ischemic heart disease suggests that the tiny vessels feeding the heart can also become stiff and narrow, reducing blood flow.

Ischemic heart disease is the medical term for what is also referred to as coronary artery disease or coronary heart disease. The coronary arteries are the blood vessels that pump oxygen-rich blood to the heart. When blood flowing through the coronary arteries is blocked, completely or partially, you are develop ischemic heart disease. This blocking of the arteries leads to a lack of oxygen-rich blood to the heart, which in turn leads to chest pain, called angina, and even myocardial infarction, or heart attack.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.