What is ischemia?
Ischemia is a condition in which the blood flow (and thus oxygen) is restricted or reduced in a part of the body. Cardiac ischemia is the name for decreased blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle.
It's the term given to heart problems caused by narrowed heart arteries. When arteries are narrowed, less blood and oxygen reaches the heart muscle. This is also called coronary artery disease and coronary heart disease. This can ultimately lead to heart attack.
Ischemia often causes chest pain or discomfort known as angina pectoris.
What is silent ischemia?
Many Americans may have ischemic episodes without knowing it. These people have ischemia without pain — silent ischemia. They may have a heart attack with no prior warning. People with angina also may have undiagnosed episodes of silent ischemia. In addition, people who have had previous heart attacks or those with diabetes are especially at risk for developing silent ischemia.
Having an exercise stress test or wearing a Holter monitor – a battery-operated portable tape recording that measures and records your electrocardiogram (ECG) continuously, usually for 24-48 hours – are two tests often used to diagnose this problem. Other tests also may be used.
This content was last reviewed July 2015.