What Is Small Vessel Ischemia?

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A lot of things can happen to our cardiovascular system most especially today—with a lot of changes in terms of how people work, travel, eat and the like. While each succeeding year, a lot of improvements are made towards making life more convenient, there is a counter-effect—that is the propensity of people to develop lifestyle related disorders such as cardiovascular diseases.

Of these cardiovascular diseases—we can probably present a meter-long list of conditions which may affect our heart. Some of them are very common, while some of them may be very uncommon—even unknown to many. One of the less known heart conditions is what we call small vessel ischemia.

Small Vessel Ischemia

Small vessel ischemia is the narrowing of the small blood vessels of our heart/ small coronary arteries that provide blood and nutrients to the heart. These small vessels, unlike the major arteries of our heart are flexible types of blood vessels. When we are exerting more effort, these small vessels expand… meanwhile when we are at rest, they contract. In short, they do adapt to the needs of our body.

Small vessel ischemia is just like myocardial ischemia—only that it affects the smaller vessels of our body. Diagnosing small vessel ischemia is tricky because one would not notice its signs and symptoms until the person exerts effort, pushing the need for these small vessels to expand.

Small Vessel Ischemia Causes

Just like myocardial ischemia, small vessel ischemia is caused by a buildup of fatty deposits inside the lumen of the arteries. As such, living an active lifestyle and lessening the intake of fatty and high cholesterol foods can help reduce the risks of developing small vessel ischemia.

Small Vessel Ischemia Signs and Symptoms

Since Small vessel ischemia is considered a minor form of myocardial ischemia—it’s signs and symptoms are similar. Chest pain especially upon exertion can occur—signaling the inability of the small vessels to expand. Pain may also radiate, as usual, to the back, neck, shoulders and jaw. Shortness of breath, feeling of fatigue and decreased vigor can also be felt.

Seeking professional help should be done once chest pain has been felt. Chest pain is not a specific and accurate sign of myocardial ischemia or small vessel ischemia so it is important to have these conditions ruled out for proper treatment to be given.

Small Vessel Ischemia Treatments

The treatments for this certain disease include beta-blockers (to slow the hearts demand for oxygen and blood), NTG or Nitroglycerin (to widen the intima of the blood vessels in order for blood to pass through properly), Statin Drugs (to control cholesterol), as well as drugs to control blood pressure like ACE, ARBs, etc.

The main difference between small vessel ischemia and that of a common myocardial ischemia is that the former cannot be treated with surgery since the vessels are too small. Medications and changes in lifestyle and diet are the priority treatment regimens for small vessel ischemia.

Make sure you seek medical help upon the commencement of chest pain. Early treatment is vital to avoid potential complications of this disease.

 

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