Explaining coronary artery blockage | Ohio State Medical Center
March 5, 2020
The most common symptoms that people think
of when they talk about blockage in the heart is chest pain and that is the majority of
the cases. And having said that, there’s times where people present with what we call not
typical symptoms, diabetic for instance. And females tend to present in untypical symptoms
more often. That could be just upset stomach, just overall not feeling well, dizziness,
sometimes the pain is in the back and the jaw and the shoulders. So it’s not just the
chest pain that could be symptoms of blockages in the arteries. There’s two ways to diagnose
the blockages. And there’s what we call non-invasive tests such as stress tests, EKGs and so forth.
Those are great initial screening tests and they’re very non invasive and safe. The problem
or the limitation I should say is the sensitivity of those tests, it’s about eight-five percent.
Meaning there’s ten, fifteen percent chance occasionally we could miss something on on
those tests. The ultimate diagnosis for blockages is with the heart catheterization but this
is a little bit more invasive test so we reserve that to situations where the suspicion is
really high or if somebody had an abnormal stress test. And that test’s basically going
inside the body with a small catheter injecting contrast. This is a hundred percent test.
There’s either blockages or not. It doesn’t have any false negative or false positive
to it. Any blockages is concerning; what is different is how you treat it. Mild blockages
does not require any intervention, meaning balloon, or stent or surgery. The focus more
is on controlling the risk factors such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes,
smoking and so forth. And in more advance phase when the blockage is severe, meaning
more than eighty percent or so, then this is when it’s time to intervene on the blockage
whether it’s with stents, or or surgery or whatever is appropriate for the particular
blockage becomes a technical issue.