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Ischemic Heart Disease is a Condition That Could Lead to Transplant

Middle aged man smilingIschemic heart disease, often referred to as coronary artery disease or informally as heart disease, is the No. 1 killer of Americans and a major cause of death worldwide, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. When plaque (a blend of cholesterol and other fatty substances) accumulates in the coronary arteries, it can prevent sections of the heart from receiving sufficient amounts of oxygen-rich blood ¨C a serious condition known as cardiac ischemia. A patient with this disease is at greatest risk of ischemia during periods of excitement, stress, or physical exertion when the heart demands increased blood flow it cannot provide due to blockages in the arteries. In such situations where the heart is deprived of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function properly, heart attack or stroke can occur.

Plaque heavy in cholesterol can collect on the walls of the arteries, and in turn trigger ischemic heart disease, due to several reasons. Detrimental lifestyle habits such as smoking; consuming foods rich in trans-fat, salt, and sugar; and not exercising can all play a major role in the onset of heart disease. In some cases, however, the accumulation of plaque deposits in the arteries is simply a result of aging or genetic disorders like hypercholesterolemia (high levels of ¡°bad¡± LDL cholesterol). Not all patients with ischemic heart disease experience noticeable symptoms, but those who do often report:

  • Unusually fast, irregular, or skipped heart beats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Increased sweating
  • Weakness and dizziness

Treatment of ischemic heart disease varies according to the severity and number of artery blockages. For many patients, making lifestyle changes and taking medications that increase blood flow to the heart are enough to manage the disease. Sometimes, a narrowed artery may even grow blood vessels that skirt the blockage and create a new route for blood to reach the heart. For others, lifesaving procedures such as stent placement, artery bypass surgery, or heart transplant are necessary. Tampa General Hospital¡¯s Heart Transplant Program performs a high volume of successful heart transplant procedures every year for adult patients with ischemic heart disease and several other life-threatening heart conditions.

To receive information regarding the selection criteria and evaluation process for Tampa General Hospital¡¯s Heart Transplant Program, please call 1-800-505-7769 (press 1 for the heart transplant program and request the referral coordinator), or contact the referral coordinator directly at (813) 844-4088.