Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary arteries supply the heart muscle with blood. When blood supply gets interrupted (ischaemia) the affected part of the heart stops beating, the ECG changes. If blood supply is not re-established within a short period of time that part of the heart gets injured/damaged (heart attack). The longer the ischaemia the more extensive damage gets, at some stage irreversible damage is sustained.
Ischaemic heart disease (IHD) refers to a heart where lack of blood supply has damaged the heart. It is the leading cause of death in New Zealand.
Testing Coronary Circulation
We can look at the coronary circulation from a functional point of view and an anatomical viewpoint. Sometimes we need to know both.
Functional tests tell us about if the blood supply is adequate and indirectly tell us if there narrowing (stenosis) in the coronaries. These tests don't usually show us the actual coronary arteries. Typical examples are:
Anatomical tests show us the coronary arteries. They don't show us if the supplied heart muscle is still alive or if narrowing lead to actually reduced blood supply (ischaemia). Examples of anatomical tests are: