Myocardial ischemia

Myocardial ischemia occurs when blood flow to your heart muscle is decreased by a partial or complete blockage of your heart's arteries (coronary arteries). The decrease in blood flow reduces your heart's oxygen supply.

Myocardial ischemia, also called cardiac ischemia, can damage your heart muscle, reducing its ability to pump efficiently. A sudden, severe blockage of a coronary artery may lead to a heart attack. Myocardial ischemia may also cause serious abnormal heart rhythms.

Treatment for myocardial ischemia is directed at improving blood flow to the heart muscle and may include medications, a procedure to open blocked arteries or coronary artery bypass surgery. Making heart-healthy lifestyle choices is important in treating and preventing myocardial ischemia.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Some people who have myocardial ischemia don't experience any signs or symptoms (silent ischemia). When myocardial ischemia does cause signs and symptoms, they may include:

  • Chest pressure or pain, typically on the left side of the body (angina pectoris)
  • Neck or jaw pain
  • Shoulder or arm pain
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting

When to see a doctor

If you have chest discomfort, especially if it's accompanied by one or more of the other signs and symptoms listed above, seek medical care immediately. Call 911 or your local emergency number. If you don't have access to emergency medical services, have someone drive you to the nearest hospital. Drive yourself only as a last resort, if there are absolutely no other options. Driving yourself puts you and others at risk if your condition suddenly worsens.

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