The arteries that supply the heart are called coronary arteries and when these arteries are narrowed due to atherosclerotic plaque, there is inadequate delivery of oxygen to heart muscle, during demand situations (e.g. exertion during exercise). If there is partial occlusion of a coronary artery this can lead to angina pectoris, a type of chest pain. Complete occlusion of a coronary artery causes a myocardial infarction (heart attack), which is characterised by the death of heart muscle, due to inadequate oxygen supply.
Risk factors: smoking, high blood pressure, excessive alcohol consumption, elevated cholesterol levels, A type personality, stress, obesity, sedentary lifestyle and diabetes.
Symptoms of a myocardial infarction: pain that radiates down the left arm, neck or shoulder, sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, shortness of breath, dizziness and sudden ringing in the ears.
Warning signs for CVD: numbness in the face, arm or leg, difficulty speaking, severe dizziness, loss of balance, co-ordination or vision, sudden intense headache or a brief loss of consciousness.
Who to consult: If you experience the symptoms of a myocardial infarction it is important to contact the nearest hospital and seek emergency care. Other practitioners that can assist are: dietician, GP, herbalist, meditation practitioner, pharmacist, physiotherapist, physical therapist and yoga practitioner.