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Let us now discuss how coronary artery obstruction affects the heart.

Q. What is ischaemic heart disease (BHD) ? A. Angina and heart attacks are both manifestations of coronary artery obstruction due to fatty (cholesterol) deposits in The wall of the artery, thereby reducing its lumen (cavity) and, consequently, the flow of blood to the corresponding portion of the heart muscle. This reduction in blood supply is called 'ischaemia', and the disease of the heart caused by this condition is called 'ischaemic heart disease' or IHD for short. It is also called coronary artery disease (CAD). Various types of angina and heart attacks (myocardial infarction) are manifestations of IHD.

Q. Do the attacks of angina cause damage to the heart ?

A. An episode of angina is a temporary imbalance between the supply and demand of oxygen to the heart muscle. The pain lasts for a few minutes, up to a maximum of 20 minutes. It does not cause permanent damage to the heart muscle.

Q. How does complete obstruction developing in a coronary artery affect the heart ?

A. If the obstruction becomes complete, little blood or no blood can flow across the obstruction. The corresponding segment of the heart muscle is acutely and severely deprived of blood and, consequently, of oxygen. This severe ischaemia cannot last long without necrosis and the death of the affected tissue. This is called myocardial infarction or simply heart attack.