The heart, a fist-sized muscle in the chest, pumps blood through the body to supply it with oxygen and other nutrients. Right side heart blockage indicates occlusion of the right coronary artery, the artery that maintains a supply of blood from the aorta to the bottom of the left ventricle as well as 90 percent of the right ventricle. When this artery is blocked, blood flow to these sections of the heart is reduced and the heart muscle does not receive its required blood or oxygen.
The most common symptoms of right side heart blockage include angina (chest pain, pressure or tightness), abdominal pain, pain in the arm, shortness of breath or extreme fatigue. Once the right coronary artery is completely blocked, a heart attack may occur. Indications of a heart attack are similar to the symptoms of a right coronary artery blockage, but more intense.
A number of risk factors contribute to right side heart blockage, including obesity, smoking, hypertension (high blood pressure), high blood cholesterol levels, diabetes, physical inactivity and high incidence of stress. Normal aging also increases the risk of coronary artery blockage. Men with these risk factors are typically more predisposed to develop heart blockages. Coronary artery disease incidence in women rises after menopause. Should you experience any of the aforementioned risk factors, discuss preventive courses of action with your physician.
When to See Your Doctor
If you suspect you are having a heart attack, call 911 or your local emergency service provider immediately. If emergency services are not available, have someone transport you to the closest hospital immediately.
Talk to your physician if you have any of the previously mentioned risk factors for coronary artery disease. Your physician may want to order tests for this condition, especially if warning symptoms of narrowed arteries are present. Aggressive treatment of these risk factors will be recommended even if you are not yet symptomatic. Early diagnosis and treatment will slow or stop the progression of the disease, and may prevent the occurrence of a heart attack.
Committing to a healthy lifestyle will promote artery health and prevent the progression of right side heart blockage and overall cardiovascular health. Increase your quantity of physical exercise, eat healthy foods, maintain a healthy weight, reduce and manage stress and quit smoking. Seek treatment if you suffer from diabetes, high cholesterol or hypertension. Limit the amount of alcohol you consume to no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.
Various medications are utilized to treat right side heart blockages including aspirin or a prescription blood thinner, cholesterol-modifying medications, beta blockers to slow your heart rate and decrease blood pressure, and nitroglycerin to control chest pain. Should more aggressive treatment be deemed necessary, cardiac catheterization, balloon angioplasty and atherectomy procedures are common. During a cardiac catheterization procedure, a small catheter is inserted into a sheath and directed to your heart so the surgeon can determine how best to proceed. Balloon angioplasty is then performed to widen arteries and increase blood flow. An atherectomy consists of inserting a grinding catheter to break the blockages into small pieces that are swept away in your bloodstream. Coronary bypass is a more invasive procedure performed to direct blood flow around the blocked or narrowed coronary arteries.