What Is Cardiac Ischemia?

Ischemia (is-KE' me-ah) is a condition that occurs when blood flow and oxygen are kept from a particular part of the body. Cardiac ischemia is the name for this condition when the heart is the body part targeted. Ischemic heart disease is a term that covers heart issues caused by narrowing of the arteries. With arteries narrowed, less blood and oxygen are able to reach the heart muscle. This is also referred to as coronary artery disease and coronary heart disease and may ultimately lead to heart attack.

Ischemia often causes chest pain or discomfort known as angina pectoris (AN' jih-nah or an-JI' nah PEK' tor-is).

Estimates indicate that 3 to 4 million Americans may have ischemic episodes and not even know. These people have ischemia without pain or silent ischemia, and 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 a 24-hour portable monitor of the electrocardiogram (e-lek' tro-KAR' de-o-gram) (Holter monitor) are two tests that are often used to diagnose this problem. Some other tests may also be used.

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