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What Is Chronic Ischemic Heart Disease?

Ischemic heart disease is most commonly caused by coronary artery disease.
Most cases of heart disease stem from unhealthy lifestyle choices.
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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2014
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Chronic ischemic heart disease is a medical condition that results in restricted blood supply to the heart muscle. Risk factors for this condition include smoking, diabetes, and the natural aging process. Common symptoms of chronic ischemic heart disease include chest pain, difficulty breathing, and heart failure. Treatment typically involves dietary changes, lifestyle modification, and the use of prescription medications. Any questions or concerns about chronic ischemic heart disease or the most appropriate treatment options for an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis frequently lead to the development of chronic ischemic heart disease. Both of these conditions are primarily caused by the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries. Cholesterol is a type of fat that is produced by the liver as well as the intestines. A combination of prescription medications, exercise, and dietary changes is often used to control cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease.

While it is possible for anyone to develop chronic ischemic heart disease, there are some risk factors that can greatly increase the chance of this type of cardiac disease. The natural aging process is the biggest risk factor, as all of the organs of the body, including the heart, naturally experience a decrease in function as a person ages. Smoking, unhealthy eating habits, and leading a sedentary lifestyle may also increase the risks of heart disease. Some medical conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol levels, also increase these risks.

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Some of the most common symptoms of chronic ischemic heart disease include chest pain, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the extremities. These symptoms may indicate severe complications such as heart failure or may lead to cardiac arrest. These symptoms may sometimes be mistaken for less severe conditions, such as indigestion or acid reflux. Due to the potential severity of these symptoms, they should be treated as a medical emergency and evaluated by a doctor right away.

Those with an increased risk of developing chronic ischemic heart disease should be diligent at reducing risk factors such as high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels. Healthy dietary habits, smoking cessation, and a moderate exercise program can often prevent heart disease. Patients who have been diagnosed with chronic ischemic heart disease may be prescribed medications along with dietary changes and lifestyle modification in an effort to manage symptoms. The needs of each patient are different, so the supervising physician can help develop an individualized treatment plan tailored to the specific needs of the patient.

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