Coronary artery blockage a.k.a atherosclerosis is a disease of the blood vessels, which can take a serious turn if not diagnosed and treated on time. Not only does it affect the heart, but it also hampers other vital body functions, leading to unwanted complications…
Blood circulation from the heart to every nook and corner of the body is possible with the help of blood vessels called coronary arteries. There are two coronary arteries present on either side of the heart that nourish the organ with oxygenated blood. These blood vessels are smooth and elastic in nature which facilitate free blood flow. At times, owing to blockages, the arteries tend to narrow down and lead to coronary artery blockage. This can affect the health of the heart and may also lead to the deterioration of the human body system.
A blockage in coronary artery is the result of deposition of plaque in the inner walls of the artery, constricting it. Unhealthy lifestyle modifications, smoking, alcohol are some of the reasons which are responsible for this cardiovascular disorder. This fatty accumulation, consisting of calcium, cholesterol, fat, may constrict the arteries and cause them to become narrow and lead to blocked artery in the heart. Owing to this narrowing, blood circulation is improper and inadequate. Thus, due to the occurrence of a blockage in the coronary artery, the heart may suffer and in the end may cease to function, resulting in death.
Coronary Artery Blockage: Symptoms
Every muscle and organ in the body, receives blood from the heart through the coronary arteries. The blood supplies oxygen and nutrients for the proper functioning of the organ systems. When the arteries start narrowing, it can result in a deficit of oxygenated blood and nutrition. The symptoms of blocked arteries may arise as a result of this condition.
- One of the first signs of arterial blockage is pain in the chest region. This condition is also medically referred to as angina pectoris, and is caused when the heart muscle degenerates due to the lack of oxygen (myocardial iscehmia). The pain may feel like squeezing or crushing pain in the sternum or breastbone. It may also radiate towards the shoulder, back, arm, neck or jaw.
- Due to a deficiency of oxygen in the body, especially in the brain, it can make the person feel weak and suffer from fatigue. Feeling light headed and experiencing bouts of dizziness are some of the early symptoms of blocked coronary artery.
- Another hallmark symptom of this cardiovascular condition is shortness of breath or dyspnea. Breathlessness may occur because the body is not able to suffice the heart’s demand for oxygen. The rate of breathing may also rise in order to supply more oxygen to the cardiac muscles, leading to a feeling of shortness of breath.
- A complete blockage of the coronary artery can cut off blood supply to the heart. This may cause the diminished function of the cardiac muscles and the heart may experience arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeats. Blocked blood flow to the heart may cause total deterioration of the heart muscles and lead to a cardiac arrest.
- Sometimes, nausea and profuse sweating may be observed as a result of coronary artery disease (CAD). Though uncommon in nature, a few cases have been reported. The above symptoms may also be caused due to squeezing chest pain or angina.
Coronary Artery Blockage: Treatment
It is essential to undergo treatment for this disease, so as to avoid unnecessary complications. Timely medical intervention is a must, in order to keep a check on this condition. Before treatment, physical exam, ECG, echocardiogram, MRI and CT scan and other diagnostic tests may be conducted by the cardiologist. Once the diagnosis is done, and the condition of the patient is assessed, the physician may proceed towards treatment.
Medications like anticoagulants, beta blockers and other drugs to thin the blood and improve the condition of the heart may be prescribed. In case, the patient does not find respite, even with medications, or if the condition is too severe, then the doctor may opt for surgery. These may include cardiac catheterization, coronary angioplasty and bypass surgery, where the affected coronary artery may be removed and replaced with a new vein.
A modification in lifestyle, along with routine medical checkup will prove to be helpful in keeping disorders like coronary artery blockage at bay.