Q:

What is the heart condition called a widow maker?

A:

Quick Answer

The widow maker is a nickname for a heart attack involving a blockage in the left anterior descending artery. This is the main artery on the front wall of the heart.

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Full Answer

The term stems from the low survival rates of patients who experience heart attacks because of blockages of the LAD. The heart muscle must have ample blood supply for a person to survive. When the LAD becomes blocked, the heart is not able to pump blood through that artery. Since the LAD supplies blood to the entire front of the heart, a total blockage of that artery is often fatal.

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    What tests can find a blocked artery in the neck?

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    Tests for diagnosing carotid artery disease or a blocked carotid artery in the neck include carotid ultrasound, carotid angiography, magnetic resonance angiography and computed tomography angiography, explains the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Physicians also search for blocked arteries in the neck by listening with a stethoscope.

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    What can you expect during carotid artery screening?

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    A carotid artery screening, or carotid ultrasound, is painless and takes about 30 minutes to complete. Patients lie down on an exam table while an ultrasound technician uses a transducer to view different areas of the neck and the carotid arteries, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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    What are the symptoms of a carotid artery blockage?

    A:

    The most apparent signs and symptoms of a carotid artery blockage include a transient ischemic attack, bruit and a stroke, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Other symptoms may be weakness, numbness or paralysis in certain body parts, trouble swallowing, problems with eyesight, dizziness, confusion, fainting or coma, according to Surgical Associates of Texas.

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    Is artery blockage treatment dangerous?

    A:

    Stenting is a treatment for artery blockage that is generally considered low-risk, according to Medtronic. Stenting does not require major surgery or general anesthesia, and recovery times from the procedure are usually quick.

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