Ischaemic Heart Disease (IHD)

What is IHD?
Ischaemic Heart Disease occurs when the blood supply to the heart is obstructed. The Coronary Arteries carry blood to the Heart's muscle. When they become narrowed or obstructed by fatty plaques (also known as Coronary Artery Disease) we are at risk of a Heart Attack or Angina.

What are the symptoms?
Some people feel very well right up until the time of a heart attack. In a heart attack, someone may feel:
Central chest pain or heaviness.
Pain in other parts of the upper body including the jaw, arm, back and stomach
Nausea, vomiting and Heartburn
Panic and a racing heartbeat
Feeling dizzy or lightheaded

Remember - Not everyone will have all of these classical symptoms when having a heart attack.
In angina, the symptoms are similar but usually resolve with rest.

What causes Ischaemic Heart Disease? The main risk factors are:
Family history - if an immediate family member has had a heart attack in the past

  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes

We can't change our family history but all of the others can be controlled or improved by lifestyle changes and medication.

How is it diagnosed?
There are several tests that can be done to help determine if Coronary Artery Disease is present.
An ECG -or electrical tracing of the heart. This involves placing stickers on the chest to get an electrical reading while lying flat.
An Exercise Stress Test - Walking briskly on a treadmill while connected to an ECG machine.
ECHO - An ultrasound scan of the heart to determine if it is moving as it should
Angiogram -This definitive test involves passing a wire through a blood vessel in the groin or wrist up to the heart and injecting a dye into the coronary arteries. This allows an X-ray photo to be taken of the coronary arteries.
Some people can have an angiogram in a CT scanner without the need for a wire being passed.


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