What is heart blockage? Is it a disease or just the symptom of a disease? What are the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment that pertain to such blockage? Answer time, folks!
I’d like to begin with clearing the biggest misconception about heart blockage — it is not a disease. On the contrary, it is one of the major symptoms of coronary artery disease and among the most prominent signs of deteriorating heart health. For those who are not familiar with heart-related medical terms, coronary arteries are those arteries which wrap around the heart. Also known as coronary artery disease, symptoms of such blockage manifest as a result of oxygen not reaching the heart muscles, whether for a short time or a longer duration. In such a case, the person suffering from a heart block experiences pain in the chest which is known as Angina pain. Cardiac blockage can be complete or partial, depending upon the time duration for which the heart does not receive oxygen. Complete blockage can lead to the death of the person suffering from it.
Heart Blockage Mechanism
If any artery gets damaged, the body becomes unable to supply adequate blood to the heart. It has to put in more efforts for doing so, which puts further strain upon the entire system. During these strains, the person suffering from typical blockage symptoms experience sharp pains in various places all around the heart. Typically, these random bouts of pain do not persist for more than 5 minutes at a time!
Arterial Blockage Causes
Blockage of the heart can be induced by a number of clinical as well as lifestyle factors. Chief among these causes are coronary artery diseases such as atherosclerosis. high cholesterol levels in arteries, physical and emotional stress and overfeeding! Carotid artery blockage symptoms may manifest due to high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes and obesity, besides high cholesterol. Blockage of the carotid artery may lead to a massive stroke in its worst form! Other causes of cardiac blockage include Myocarditis. Cardiomyopathy. Lev’s Disease and Pulmonary Valve Stenosis .
Arterial Blockage Symptoms
Sharp pain in and around the heart, breathlessness, dizziness, nausea and excessive sweating together comprise heart blockage symptoms. Symptoms of arterial blockage in the heart, especially if it is carotid artery blockage, may often manifest as slurred speech, difficulty in moving limbs and unexpected weakness besides the aforementioned symptoms. Symptoms of peripheral artery blockage include leg pain. Heart disease and heart attack symptoms in men differ from those in women and women’s symptoms are often not very predictable. A woman complaining of constant sleep disturbances and indigestion may very well turn out to be a case of heart attack even if she is not experiencing chest pains at present!
Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease
In case you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms persistently for a given period of time, you should at once report the same to your doctor, who, if he suspects heart/ arterial disease, may recommend you to a specialist. To diagnose any such condition, a simple test for arterial blockage, electrocardiogram, is conducted from which a heart specialist can make out any heart related abnormality by reading and interpreting the heart beats and their rhythm. Sometimes, a specialist may want to conduct an electrophysiology study to decipher arterial disorders. In this test, a flexible wire is inserted in a vein, in either your upper arm or upper thigh, which passes through the heart in order to catch the electrical pulses of the heart to diagnose the problem.
Coronary Artery Blockage Treatment
Depending upon the severity and cause, there are about two broad ways to treat heart block — medication and surgery. In case of first degree heart block, caused due to slower-than-normal movement of electrical impulses through atrioventricular nodes, usually does not require treatment and adequate rest coupled with lowering stress levels can successfully tackle it. In case of second degree heart block, where atrial signals do not reach the ventricles at all, cardiac surgery and stent operation may be required, sometimes including the implantation of a pacemaker. What is a heart stent operation? Well, stents are very thin stainless steel meshes which are used to keep the arteries open while they are being surgically placed in the correct position. Stents are often used during angioplasty and bypass heart surgery.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the use of stents and the reasons behind such controversy are quite valid. As foreign objects introduced to the body, stents may tend to react adversely with body fluids and organs, making the patient suffer from various infections. Also, as in tandem with the body’s tendency to fight against any foreign object, the immune system may cause platelets to accumulate at the site of the stents, causing clots. To tackle this situation, Aspirin is most commonly prescribed, in specific doses, for lifelong consumption. Also, nowadays, to prevent re-narrowing of the arteries at the stented sites, drug coated stents are used to prevent this condition.
We all know that prevention is better than cure but few of us care to practice it! A healthy lifestyle coupled with proper stress management and diet regulation is the key to a preventing arterial blockage and other heart related disorders. Even people to whom heart disease is genetically passed down can benefit from such lifestyle measures — they can at least ensure not worsening that which cannot be avoided. Take care of your heart — after all, it takes such good care of you when it is healthy!
By Ishani Chatterjee Shukla
Last Updated: 9/27/2011
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