What Are the Causes of Ischemic Heart Disease?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2018
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Ischemic heart disease is characterized by insufficient blood flow through one or more of the arteries responsible for transporting oxygen to the heart and may have a variety of causes. Some of the most common contributing factors include plaque buildup, arterial spasms, and the development of blood clots. Additional causes include untreated hypertension, unhealthy eating habits, and a sedentary lifestyle. Smoking, chronic stress, and diabetes may also increase the risk of developing this type of heart disease. A doctor should be consulted with any specific questions or concerns in individual cases.

Atherosclerosis is a medical term used to describe plaque buildup on the walls of the coronary arteries and is the most common cause of this condition, which is commonly referred to as hardening of the arteries. It may be caused by high cholesterol levels, a poor diet, or a genetic predisposition to this disease. Dietary changes and lifestyle modifications such as reducing the consumption of fatty foods and adopting a moderate exercise program are often the only treatment methods needed to treat atherosclerosis, although prescription medications may be used to manage any underlying medical conditions.


In many cases, ischemic heart disease is thought to develop as the result of a combination of risk factors. Chronic hypertension, or high blood pressure, can lead to complications like heart disease, especially if left untreated for long periods of time. While diet and exercise are often used to prevent or treat hypertension, prescription medications are frequently needed in order to adequately manage this condition. Involuntary spasms involving the coronary arteries may also create an increased risk of developing ischemic heart disease and are normally treated with medications known as calcium channel blockers.

Blood clots, chronic stress, and diabetes are believed to contribute to the development of ischemic heart disease, especially if not diagnosed and treated before significant damage to the arteries has occurred. Blood-thinning medications are often used to prevent or treat blood clotting problems, and the use of a hormone known as insulin is typically used in conjunction with dietary changes to control diabetes. Relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation may help to relieve chronic stress and reduce the risks of developing heart disease. Any questions about individual causes of ischemic heart disease or the most appropriate treatment options should be discussed with a doctor or other qualified medical professional.



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