Q:

What type of artery blockage is called the "widow maker"?

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Quick Answer

"Widow maker" refers to a blockage in the left descending artery, which comes down the front of the heart to supply blood to the front and bottom of the left side of the heart, according to Cleveland Clinic. Heart attacks caused by a blockage in this artery have a high mortality rate, leading to the nickname of widow maker.

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Full Answer

A complete closure of the left anterior descending coronary artery causes a widow maker, as the Texas Heart Institute explains, and this type of blockage sometimes results in immediate death. Despite its nickname, the condition also affects women. A cardiac stress test helps diagnose heart disease, allowing patients to seek treatment before complete blockage occurs. An angiogram, in which an X-ray takes a picture of dye moving through the coronary arteries, is a more direct way to check the coronary arteries for partial blockages.

The left descending artery is one of three arteries that supply the heart with blood, as Cleveland Clinic details. The circumflex coronary artery also exits the heart on the left side, and it provides blood to the top left and back of the heart. The right coronary artery exits the aorta on the right, and it supplies blood to the right side of the heart.

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