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THE DISEASED HEART: YOUR QUESTIONS & DOCTOR’S ANSWERS - HOW DOES A PARTIALLY OBSTRUCTED CORONARY ARTERY AFFECT THE HEART ?

Q. How does a partially obstructed coronary artery affect the heart ?

A.. The amount of blood flowing through a partially blocked coronary artery will naturally be less than normal, the reduction being proportional to the degree of obstruction. This reduced blood supply may be perfectly adequate for normal functioning of the heart when at rest, but, during exertion, the heart rate and the work load of the heart go up, increasing its oxygen requirement. This requirement has to be met by increased blood supply. Due to the obstruction, the blood supply cannot be augmented beyond a certain limit. This causes lack of oxygen in the heart. The heart muscle cries with pain, which we call angina pectoris or, for short, angina. The pain is relieved if the patient stops exertion bringing down the heart rate and, consequently, its oxygen requirement. When the blood supply matches the oxygen demand of the heart, the pain resulting from angina stops.

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