Ischemia describes a partially blocked artery due to deposits of fat (plaque) on the inner lining of the vessel. In the case of ischemic heart disease, this narrowing of the coronary arteries leaves them unable to bring enough blood and oxygen to the cardiac muscle. This can result in chest pain, but cardiac ischemia can also develop painlessly, and sudden, total blockage of the coronary artery will result in a heart attack. A heart attack causes one in seven deaths in the US. Lifestyle changes and consistent medical surveillance can control some causes and symptoms of ischemic heart disease, while other factors such as age and heredity, cannot be altered.
High levels of LDL cholesterol and low levels of the HDL cholesterol are conducive to plaque buildup in the arteries, specifically the coronary artery. Triglycerides, another body fat, are also associated with plaque deposits, causing atherosclerosis or a so-called hardening of the arteries. Elevated triglycerides and LDL and low HDL are risk factors for heart attacks and strokes.
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