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Differences Between Myocardial Ischemia and Myocardial Infarction

Myocardial Ischemia vs Myocardial Infarction

Myocardial ischemia and myocardial infarction are terms used in medicine describing either tissue death or tissue damage of the heart.

To explain each word, ‘myocardium’ is the part of the heart which contains the myocardial muscle. The heart contains four chambers and a large network of major and minor blood vessels, veins, and arteries. The word ‘ischemia’ means ‘damage’ or ‘destruction.’ The word ‘infarction’ means ‘death of a certain part of the organ.’

So in myocardial ischemia, there are damaged tissues in the myocardium. However, in myocardial infarction, there are tissue deaths which are more fatal in the part of the individual.

Myocardial infarction is also known as a heart attack while myocardial ischemia is also known as angina or chest pain. Angina is not a disease; it is a syndrome of heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases. In myocardial infarction, the blood supply to the heart is blocked permanently causing tissue death and interruption. In myocardial ischemia, blood supply to the heart is temporarily blocked only. Thus, the heart does not get oxygen causing chest pain.

Six million Americans experience myocardial ischemia every year while one out of five Americans dies from a heart attack. The symptom of myocardial ischemia is chest pain which can be either after working out, while resting, or a combination. This is classified as stable and unstable angina. The symptoms of myocardial infarction are chest pain and retrosternal pain. The chest pain, however, radiates to the left area and up to the jaw. It is important to rush the patient to the hospital before cardiac arrest would occur. In heart attacks, the pain is longer, more intense, and involves a lot of areas, such as, the stomach, left shoulder, chest, and back accompanied by diaphoresis or sweating.

The cause of myocardial infarction and ischemia can be attributed to a lot of factors. The first one is obesity in which fats accumulate in blood vessels and hinder the smooth flow of the blood. Another is cigarette smoking which constricts and hardens the blood vessels making them non-elastic. Another is a lack of exercise. It can also be due to hypertension plus other risk factors.

Treatment of myocardial infarction involves different medications such as blood thinners like aspirin, anti-hypertensive drugs, and pain medications. Treatment for myocardial ischemia is usually anti-angina drugs.



Myocardial infarction involves tissue death while myocardial ischemia involves tissue damage.

Myocardial infarction is also known as a heart attack while myocardial ischemia is also known as chest pain or angina.

Myocardial infarction is fatal while myocardial ischemia can be a sign of an impending heart attack.

Myocardial infarction involves several painful body areas during the attack while myocardial ischemia only the chest is involved.

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