Coronary heart disease (CHD), also known as coronary artery disease, ischemic heart disease refers to a narrowing of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply oxygen and blood to the heart. Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in Ukraine.
Coronary arteries are the heart's network of blood vessels. They exist on the surface of the heart, and they supply the heart muscle with oxygen. If the coronary arteries narrow, the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart may become too low, especially during physical activity.
CHD is believed to start with injury or damage to the inner layer of a coronary artery. This damage causes fatty plaque deposits (atheroma) to build up at the site of the injury. These deposits consist of cholesterol and other cellular waste products. The accumulation is called atherosclerosis.
At first, this reduction in blood flow may not produce any symptoms, but as fatty deposits, or plaques, build up in the coronary arteries, signs and symptoms may emerge.
In the time course arteries may become so narrow because of such deposits that they cannot deliver enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart. The pain and discomfort one may feel as a result of this is called angina.
If a piece of atheroma breaks off it may cause a blood clot (blockage) to form. If it blocks the coronary artery and cuts off the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle, the heart may become permanently damaged. This is known as a heart attack.
Angina. The following are symptoms of angina:
There are several main types of angina:
Shortness of breath. CHD can lead to shortness of breath. If the heart and other organs are getting too little oxygen, the patient may start panting. Any exertion may be very tiring.
Heart attack, or myocardial infarction, happens when the heart muscle does not have enough blood, and therefore oxygen. The muscle dies, and a heart attack occurs.
A heart attack commonly occurs when a blood clot develops from a plaque in one of the coronary arteries. The clot, if it is big enough, can stop the supply of blood to the heart. The blood clot is known as coronary thrombosis.
Symptoms of a heart attack include:
The first symptom is normally chest pain that spreads to the neck, jaw, ears, arms, and wrists, and possibly the shoulder blades, the back, or the abdomen.
Changing position, resting, or lying down brings no relief. The pain is often constant, but it can come and go. It can last from a few minutes to many hours.
A heart attack is a medical emergency. It can result in death or permanent damage to the heart muscle. If anyone has signs of a heart attack, it is crucial to call the emergency services immediately.
CHD cannot be cured, but with today's technology, it can be managed effectively.
Treatment involves lifestyle changes, and possibly some medical procedures and medications.
Lifestyle recommendations include quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.
Medications may include:
Surgery can open or replace blocked arteries, if the blood vessels have become very narrow, or if symptoms are not responding to medications:
Rarely, a heart transplant may be needed, if the heart is badly damaged and treatment is not working.