Early signs of arterial blockage in the heart you need to know

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Arterial blockages in the heart, known medically as coronary artery disease (CAD), occur when the major blood vessels that supply the heart with blood, oxygen, and nutrients become damaged or diseased.

Cholesterol-containing deposits (plaque) in your arteries and inflammation are usually to blame for coronary artery disease. Recognizing the signs early can be life-saving, as these blockages can lead to severe cardiovascular events like heart attacks.

This review will explore the signs of arterial blockage, supported by research and presented in a way that’s easy for anyone to understand.

Coronary artery disease develops gradually and silently, often over decades. Initially, it might not cause symptoms, but as plaque builds up, it narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through.

If the arteries become too narrow or blocked, symptoms of a heart attack can occur. The process of plaque building up and hardening is called atherosclerosis.

Chest Pain (Angina) One of the most common signs of significant arterial blockage is chest pain or discomfort, often referred to as angina. Patients describe angina as a feeling of pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of the chest.

The sensation can also occur in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. Angina is typically triggered by physical or emotional stress and usually lasts for a few minutes before subsiding.

Research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology emphasizes that any new, unexplained chest pain or sudden worsening of existing chest pain should be evaluated by a healthcare professional immediately.

Shortness of Breath If the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs due to a blockage, it can lead to shortness of breath. This symptom might occur during activity or when lying flat and may be accompanied by fatigue.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine highlighted that people with CAD might start noticing these symptoms especially during exercise or other exertions when the demand for oxygen is higher.

Heart Palpitations Irregular heartbeats, or palpitations, can be a sign of coronary artery disease. Patients might feel fluttering, a fast-beating or pounding heart. This is often because the heart is working harder than normal to circulate blood through clogged arteries.

Nausea, Indigestion, Heartburn, or Stomach Pain Some people may have these symptoms during a heart attack. They’re more common in women than in men.

According to a report in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, these atypical symptoms can often be mistaken for other conditions like a stomach ulcer, the flu, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Fatigue Unusual fatigue can occur during significant arterial blockage. It can manifest as an overwhelming tiredness that appears suddenly and lasts for several days, or fatigue that occurs with activities that didn’t previously cause tiredness.

Research shows that this symptom is also more common in women and may occur weeks before a heart attack.

Sweating Breaking out in a cold sweat for no apparent reason might also signal a heart attack, a severe result of coronary artery disease. It often occurs along with other symptoms like chest pain or shortness of breath.

Recognizing these signs and seeking timely medical advice can be crucial. Diagnostic methods like stress tests, echocardiograms, and coronary angiography are used to evaluate the severity of blockage and guide treatment.

Treatment can include lifestyle changes, medications, and potentially procedures like angioplasty or surgery depending on the severity.

In conclusion, being aware of the various signs of arterial blockage and responding quickly to potential heart-related symptoms can save lives.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and smoking cessation, plays a key role in preventing and managing coronary artery disease. Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider are essential for anyone at risk of CAD.

If you care about heart health, please read studies that yogurt may help lower the death risks in heart disease, and coconut sugar could help reduce artery stiffness.

For more information about health, please see recent studies that Vitamin D deficiency can increase heart disease risk, and results showing vitamin B6 linked to lower death risk in heart disease.

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