What Are Some Symptoms of Chronic Microvascular Ischemia?

Symptoms of microvascular ischemia, or small vessel disease, include discomfort in the neck, shoulders and upper back; chest pain; shortness of breath; loss of energy; and insomnia, says Mayo Clinic. Microvascular ischemia sometimes occurs in conjunction with coronary artery disease.

Microvascular ischemia is the narrowing of small blood vessels in the heart, says Mayo Clinic. Symptoms are very similar to typical cardiac disease symptoms. Chest pain associated with microvascular ischemia may feel like simple discomfort or squeezing, and it may occur with jaw and left arm pain or increase with emotional stress or strenuous activity. When symptoms of cardiac disease occur in the absence of main artery blockages or persist after treatment for coronary artery disease, microvascular ischemia is a concern. Women are at higher risk for microvascular ischemia than men, and high blood pressure and diabetes are also risk factors.

Small heart vessels expand when a person is active, according to Mayo Clinic. The narrowing of small vessels reduces the heart's ability to get oxygenated blood to the rest of the body during physical activity. These vessels may even narrow more during physical activity or stressful situations, leading to an increase in symptoms. While these vessels are too small for surgery, various medications help to treat microvascular ischemia.