Myocardial Ischemia – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Myocardial ischemia

What is Myocardial Ischemia?

Myocardial ischemia is a condition that is characterized by inadequate blood flow in the coronary arteries (of the heart) owing to a partial or complete blockage of the arteries. The disease causes the heart muscles to lose their ability to pump blood and causes severe abnormal heart rhythms.

Signs & Symptoms

Patients may have myocardial ischemia and still not present any signs and symptoms. However, it typically causes pressure with pain in the chest and pain on the left side of the body. Some common symptoms of myocardial ischemia include:

  • Rapid heartbeats
  • Pain in neck and shoulder
  • Pressure on chest
  • Chest discomfort
  • Heartburn 
  • Feeling like indigestion/ choking
  • Sweating
  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting

Causes of Myocardial Ischemia

The disease myocardial ischemia occurs when the blood flow through one or more coronary arteries is impaired. The ischemic condition develops gradually as the arteries become blocked over time. The decrease in blood flow also reduces the amount of normal oxygen level in human body that your heart muscles receive. The conditions that cause myocardial ischemia are:

Atherosclerosis: Coronary artery disease occur due to  plaques of cholesterol that get deposited on the walls of your arteries. They cause narrowing of arteries, restrict the blood flow and prevent the oxygen supply to the heart walls.

Blood Clot: Rupture of atherosclerotic plaques can lead to the formation of a blood clot and sudden myocardial ischemia. It may result in a heart attack as well.

Coronary artery spasm: Spasms are the tightening of the muscles in the wall of the arteries. These temporary spasms can cause brief obstruction in the blood flow to that part of the heart muscle. It is an uncommon cause of myocardial ischemia.

Risk Factors

Certain factors can enhance your risk of developing myocardial ischemia. Some of them are:

  1. Diabetes: The presence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes can lead to various heart problems including, heart attack and myocardial ischemia.
  2. High Blood Pressure: Increasingly high blood pressure and hypertension can accelerate forming atherosclerosis and subsequent plaque rupture. It can also lead to severe damage to the coronary arteries. 
  3. Elevated cholesterol and triglycerides: High blood fats, including cholesterol and triglycerides, occur due to increased intake of saturated fats in the diet. High levels of these blood fats contribute to atherosclerosis and myocardial ischemia.
  4. Lack of physical activity: Exercise is effective for better health and reduction of cardiovascular risk. Not getting enough exercise may cause an increase in cholesterol and obesity. Regular exercise can help prevent heart diseases and reduce blood pressure.
  5. Obesity: Obesity associated with other illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol can precipitate atherosclerotic events and cause myocardial ischemia.
  6. Tobacco: Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of injury to the arteries’ walls from the inside. The damage can slow down the blood flow and increase clot formation in the coronary arteries. 

When to See a Doctor

Call your healthcare provider if you feel heartburn, pain in the chest, and shortness of breath. Request an appointment at Apollo Hospitals to seek medical help for diagnosis and treatment of heart problems. Your doctor will perform a physical exam and take your medical history for an accurate diagnosis.

Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment


Your cardiologist may recommend a few of the following tests depending on your illness to diagnose myocardial ischemia:


The chest pain occurring in myocardial ischemia is usually triggered by factors such as physical exertion, emotional stress, consumption of heavy meals, use of cocaine, and cold temperatures. Delays in the treatment can be deadly and also lead to permanent damage to the heart. 

Severe complications that can occur as a result of myocardial ischemia are:

Treatment of Myocardial Infarction

Medications: Your doctor will prescribe medications or recommend surgery depending on the severity of the illness. Medications that improve the blood flow in the heart muscles may be used. These include the use of aspirin, nitrates, cholesterol-lowering medicines, blood pressure-lowering medications, and diuretics.

Surgical Procedures: These procedures intended to improve the blood flow within the heart. Some procedures that may help include coronary artery bypass surgery, stenting, angioplasty, and enhanced external counterpulsation. It is a non-invasive treatment that reduces pressure on the blood vessels and improves blood flow to the heart.

Lifestyle & Home Remedies

It is recommended to make lifestyle changes and reduce the risk factors that precipitate severe ischemia. Consider following these remedies for the prevention of myocardial ischemia:

  • Quit smoking
  • Consume a healthy diet (reducing the intake of saturated fats)
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid stress
  • Remain physically active
  • Manage underlying chronic illnesses (such as diabetes, hypertension, and high blood cholesterol)


The recommended lifestyle habits and management strategies can also help prevent the development of ischemic conditions. It is advisable to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle to preserve your arteries and maintain heart health. 

Living with Myocardial Ischemia

Myocardial ischemia, also known as cardiac ischemia, involves sudden blockage in one of the heart arteries (coronary artery), leading to impaired blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart muscles. Various factors contribute to cardiovascular illness. Treatment of myocardial ischemia generally is accomplished by medications, bypass surgery, and other procedures intended to improve the blood flow. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is ischemia?

It is a condition that causes a lack of oxygen delivery to the heart muscles 

I have severe chest pain on the left side and shortness of breath. Do I have myocardial ischemia?

General symptoms cannot help to diagnose myocardial ischemia. It is advisable to seek professional medical help and use diagnostic tests to evaluate your health condition.