How Do you Know if You Have a Heart Blockage?
Arteries are the vessels responsible for carrying oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Healthy arteries are flexible and their inner walls are smooth, which allows blood to flow through them easily; however, when plaque builds up on arterial walls and their flexibility is reduced, blood flow is compromised. Once plaque accumulates, if a blockage occurs in one of the arteries carrying oxygen to the heart (i.e., a coronary artery), a heart attack may result.
The only way to truly determine if you have a heart blockage is to visit an experienced cardiologist for an evaluation; however, there are some symptoms that may indicate narrowed or blocked coronary arteries.
Symptoms of Narrowed or Blocked Coronary Arteries
An individual with narrowed or blocked coronary arteries may experience chest pain (i.e., angina).
Symptoms associated with angina include:
- Short-lived chest pain, lasting no longer than five minutes.
- Chest pain that occurs while participating in, or performing a physical activity.
- Pain that spreads out from the chest to the arms, upper body or back.
- Discomfort similar to that experienced when suffering from bad indigestion.
Women may experience additional symptoms, including:
- Sharp pain in the chest or stomach.
- Shortness of breath.
If the symptoms being experienced are due to angina, you will find relief upon resting or taking a heart medication like nitroglycerin.
Although angina itself does not damage the heart, it is an early warning sign of heart disease; therefore, be sure to have your heart evaluated by an experienced cardiologist right away.
Circumstances that can trigger angina include:
- Heavy meals.
- Extreme temperatures.
Whether you believe you are experiencing angina, a heart attack or a mini heart attack, never hesitate to call 911.
What is Plaque?
Plaque is a fatty material that can accumulate on the walls of arteries. When plaque builds up on the coronary arteries, an individual is diagnosed with coronary heart disease (CHD), aka coronary artery disease (CAD).
The plaque that builds up on arterial walls consists of a variety of substances, all of which are circulating in the blood. These substances include low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is the ‘bad’ cholesterol, fat, calcium, fibrin and cellular waste. As a response to the buildup of plaque, the cells in the arterial walls multiply and begin secreting even more substances, which only exacerbates the problem.
Risk factors for plaque buildup include:
- A sedentary lifestyle.
At Tri-City Cardiology, we have a group of dedicated, board-certified cardiologists waiting to assist you. Additionally, in the event of a cardiac emergency, Tri-City Cardiology’s world-class emergency heart treatment center has the experienced cardiologists and state-of-the-art equipment necessary to perform some of the most innovative cardiovascular procedures and treatments currently available. Contact Tri-City Cardiology at 480-835-6100 to schedule an initial consultation. If you would rather complete the online contact form, please click here.