|MadSci Network: Medicine|
Very interesting! I haven’t formally heard this nickname (widow’s artery) being used to describe the left anterior descending (anterior interventricular) coronary artery. But if I am to make an intelligent guess the reasons are as follows:- Nowadays one of our major killers of urban dwellers is coronary heart disease (CHD) with subsequent myocardial ischaemia, which eventually lead to complication such as myocardial infarction (M.I.). Among the causes of CHD is atherosclerosis (focal thickening of the intima) in the coronary artery complicated by thrombosis/embolism. Blockage leading to ischaemia most commonly occur in the artery you mentioned, left anterior descending coronary artery, implicated in about 50% of cases. And that if we considered the risk factors for atherosclerosis, male is more prone to develop atherosclerotic plaques and its consequences than females, especially pre-menopausal women (unless they are predisposed to diabetes mellitus, severe hypertension or familiar hypercholesterolaemia, etc.). As a result, it should not be surprised to see the reason for the name “widow’s artery” by linking the evidence above: i.e. this artery is simply more likely to kill a man, leaving behind a widow on her own! (please note that atherosclerosis and its complication usually develops in the 3rd-4th decade of one’s lifetime, so maybe men in their 30s-40s are likely to have got married? I don’t know:-) Joshua Chai Medical Student, University of Cambridge, UK
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