Ischemic heart disease, commonly known as coronary heart disease, is the 2nd most common cause of death in Singapore in 2020. This is a disease is whereby there is a blockage of the coronary arteries, resulting in reduced flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. What are the causes of coronary heart disease, and what are the symptoms you should watch out for?
Causes Of Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary heart disease may develop slowly if the heart’s arteries become blocked over time, or it can happen quickly if an artery suddenly becomes blocked. Causes of coronary heart disease include:
The most common cause of coronary heart disease is atherosclerosis. This is a condition whereby plaques (mostly made up of cholesterol) build up on the walls of arteries. This narrows the arteries, resulting in restricted blood flow to the heart.
A blood clot can form when plaques developed in atherosclerosis rupture. It can block an artery and lead to a heart attack. In rare instances, a blood clot from another part of body might have travelled to the coronary artery, rather than originating from plaques within the coronary artery itself.
Coronary Artery Spasm
This is a temporary tightening of the muscles in the artery wall. Such spasms can briefly reduce or prevent blood flow to the heart. However, this is rarely a cause of coronary heart disease.
Symptoms of Coronary Heart Disease
There are a number of symptoms of coronary heart disease. However, there are cases whereby patients do not exhibit any symptoms. When patients do not experience any pain resulting from the disease, it is a condition known as silent ischemia. This is a dangerous condition as the patient can have a heart attack without any prior warning. Patients who have a prior history of heart attacks, or suffer from diabetes, are at higher risk of developing silent ischemia.
When patients do exhibit symptoms of coronary heart disease, these tend to be:
- Chest pressure or pain usually on the left side of the body
- The feeling of heaviness or tightness in the chest spreads to the arms, back and other areas of the body
- Neck or jaw pain
- Shortness of breath when doing physical activity
- Feeling gassy or indigestion
- A rapid heartbeat
- Lightheaded or dizziness
The above symptoms may also indicate an impending heart attack. If you are experiencing any of these, you should seek medical attention immediately.
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.