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How are heart disease and Agent Orange related?

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Quick Answer

Medical research recognizes that exposure to Agent Orange is a contributing factor to ischemic heart disease, according to the Veterans' Administration. Ischemic heart disease results in chest pain stemming from a reduction of blood supply to the heart.

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Full Answer

The cardiac muscle only has one supply of blood, the coronary arteries. If a blockage forms in those arteries, the muscle does not get the amount of oxygen it needs. One of the most common causes is atherosclerosis. At first, either the big coronary arteries or coronary artery end branches experience narrowing or total closure because of debris in the blood, as stated by Science Daily.

When patients first experience ischemic heart disease, it feels similar to angina, particularly if a sizable area is influenced. In many cases, the covering of plaques that have formed along the arterial wall ruptures, closing or narrowing the arteries. The result is a heart attack, leading to reduced blood to the heart and subsequent damage, notes Science Daily.

Treatment of ischemic heart disease involves treatment for elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels through dietary interventions, cessation of smoking, stress reduction and weight loss as necessary. Balloon angioplasty or surgery clears out the affected arteries. Four different types of medications are used in treating ischemic heart disease: nitrates, calcium channel antagonists, anti-platelet drugs and beta-blockers, reports RxMed.

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