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Silent Ischemia and Ischemic Heart Disease

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Ischemia is a condition in which the blood flow (and thus oxygen) is restricted to a part of the body. Cardiac ischemia is the name for lack of blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle.

What is ischemic heart disease? It is the term given to heart problems caused by narrowed heart arteries. When arteries are narrowed, less blood and oxygen reach the heart muscle. This is also called coronary artery disease (CAD) and coronary heart disease. This can ultimately lead to heart attack. Ischemia often causes chest pain or discomfort known as angina pectoris.

What is silent ischemia?
People who experience ischemia without pain have a heart condition known as silent ischemia. They may have a heart attack with no prior warning. People with angina also may have undiagnosed episodes of silent ischemia. An exercise test or 24-hour portable monitors of the electrocardiogram (Holter monitor) are two tests often used to diagnose this problem.  Other tests also may be use

Cardiac ischemia refers to lack of blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle. Cardiac ischemia happens when an artery becomes narrowed or blocked for a short time, preventing oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart. If ischemia is severe or lasts too long, it can cause a heart attack (myocardial infarction) and can lead to heart tissue death. In most cases, a temporary blood shortage to the heart causes the pain of angina pectoris. 
Silent ischemia may also disturb the heart's rhythm. Abnormal rhythms such as
ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation may interfere with the heart's pumping ability and can even cause fainting or sudden cardiac death.

Silent ischemia has no symptoms. Researchers have found that if you have episodes of noticeable chest pain, you may also have episodes of silent ischemia.

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