Fellow, Complex Coronary Angioplasty, Japan
Fellow, Interventional Cardiology, Taiwan
Guest Professor of Cardiology, Tiantan Hospital, Beijing
Guest Professor Tan Tao Medical School, Vietnam
Vice Chairperson Coronary Intervention , Asia Pacific Heart Association
A widow maker is a nickname used to describe blockage of left main coronary artery.This term is used because if the artery gets abruptly and completely occluded it will cause a massive heart attack that will likely lead to a sudden death. Angioplasty does not prevent heart attack but it can restore blood flow in case of a sudden blockage or heart attack. From the minute a widow maker hits, survival time ranges from minutes to several hours. Symptoms of initial onset may include nausea, shortness of breath, pain in the head, jaw, arms or chest, numbness in fingers, often of a novel but imprecise sensation which builds with irregular heart beat. It cannot kill instantaneously but induce cardiac arrest which may do so within 10 to 20 minutes of no circulation.
The left main coronary artery supplies at least two thirds of the hearts blood supply. When it becomes narrowed it causes large areas of the heart to malfunction with subsequent severe anginal chest pain and breathlessness. Occlusion of the left main coronary is usually fatal within a matter of seconds. Recent improvements in stent technology have allowed successful treatment of this immediately life threatening condition. Results are sufficiently encouraging to challenge the traditional role of surgery and consider stenting as an alternative.
Surgical bypass has been the mainstay of treatment for left main coronary narrowings for many years. Bypass has a proven track record of prolonging life and reducing symptoms. Improved stent technology has reduced reblockage and increasing expertise in implantation technique has resulted in sequential improvement in results.