Angina is not an illness in its own right but a credible sign of coronary artery disease (CAD). It is described as a tightness, pain, or discomfort in the chest that happens when a part of the heart muscle gets less blood oxygen than normal. It is not a serious situation when experienced on its own. Nevertheless, if an individual is suffering from angina, it is a strong indicator that he/she has a sort of heart disease.
Here’s what you need to know about angina:
What are the signs and symptoms of angina, when to see the doctor?
Angina is generally felt in the chest area as:
- burning or hurting transversely the chest, typically starting behind the breastbone
- Pain often extends to the neck, jaw, arms, shoulders, throat, back, or even the teeth
Sufferers may also experience other symptoms of angina that include:
- shortness of breath
If you notice that your chest pain persists longer than a few minutes and it doesn’t stop with taking medications or rest, it may be an indication of a heart attack. When this happens, you need to immediately call 911 for medical help. Make sure to have transport arrangement or otherwise as last option, drive yourself to the hospital.
If chest pain happens to you for the first time, you should see the physician to check the actual cause of the pain in your chest and to get appropriate treatment.
What causes angina?
It is also identified as “angina pectoris”, happens when the flow of blood through the coronary arteries to the heart muscle is inadequate to meet the heart’s oxygen demands.
Coronary heart disease is the most prevalent cause of reduced blood flow to the heart in persons with angina. Coronary heart disease is a type of cardiovascular disease in which there is a build-up of fatty deposits on the inside of the coronary arteries that makes them slender and constraint the amount of blood flowing to the heart muscle.
What factors increase the risk of angina?
Those individuals who have a very high risk of coronary artery disease also have an increased danger of angina. The risk factors include:
- High cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Use of tobacco (smoking)
- Being heavy or obese
- Metabolic disease
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Over 45 years of age for males and over 55 years of age for females
- A family history of primary heart disease
What are the complications of angina?
Heart tissue tolerates damage in 30 minutes of being deprived of oxygen. A blood clot that totally blocks blood flow in a coronary artery and does not slightly liquefy will cause a heart attack.
Untreated enduring stable angina may advance to unstable angina, a severe coronary syndrome that necessitates instant medical attention to avert the progress of
- severe arrhythmias
- heart attack, and
- sudden cardiac death—due to cardiac arrest with loss of consciousness in 1 hour of the start of acute indications
Possible complications of angina include:
- Atrioventricular block
- Incidents of disabling pain
- Heart attack
- Severe arrhythmias
- Sudden cardiac death (sudden cardiac arrest [SCA])
What tests are performed to diagnose angina?
The condition is diagnosed by your doctor leading a physical examination and questioning about your symptoms and any risk factors, counting whether there is a family history of any heart ailment.
The diagnostic tests include:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): This machine monitors outlines of the electrical signals in the heart to expose whether the blood flow through the heart has been slowed or disturbed.
- Exercise stress test: It includes watching ECG readings through exercise subsequently. The exercise can be in form of treadmill walking or stationary bicycle pedaling. It is easier to identify angina when the heart has to work harder.
- Echocardiogram: This test uses a machine that utilizes sound waves to yield moving images of the heart, which consents identification of angina-related difficulties.
- Chest X-ray: This test looks for other circumstances that might be triggering angina symptoms and to see if the heart is enlarged.
- Coronary angiography: It uses X-ray imaging to attain a thorough image of the inside of the coronary arteries and to examine them.
- Cardiac computerized tomography (CT) scan: It is high-tech equipment that collects numerous thorough images of the heart that shows if the heart is enlarged or the coronary arteries are constricted.
- Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This test is used to produce and examine the detailed images of the structure of the heart and its blood vessels.
How can angina be treated?
Angina treatments aimed to decrease pain, manage symptoms, and inhibit or lower the risk of heart attack. Drugs, lifestyle changes, and curative procedures may all be engaged.
Lifestyle modifications suggested to treat angina include:
- Quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke exposure
- Supervising weight
- Frequently testing cholesterol levels
- Avoiding large meals
- Learning how to manage or avoid stress
- Intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or no-fat dairy crops, and lean meat and fish
- Nitrates, such as nitroglycerin, are frequently recommended for angina. It prevents or diminishes the strength of angina attacks by relaxing and flaring blood vessels.
Other medicines may be used such as:
- Calcium channel blockers
- Medications for lowering blood pressure
- High blood pressure medicines may also be recommended to treat angina. These medications are premeditated to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, relax the heart rate, relax blood vessels, cut strain on the heart, and avert blood clots from starting.
What preventive measures can be followed for angina?
- A heart-healthy standard of living is imperative for everyone, not just for individuals who have health complications. It can support you preserve your body well and lower your threat of a heart attack.
- Make lifestyle modifications (as suggested above).
- Avoid smoking may be the greatest thing you can do to inhibit heart disease. You can start by dropping your risk right away by resigning to smoke. Similarly, avoid secondhand smoke.
- Consuming heart-healthy diet or a balanced diet can benefit you lower your risk of heart problems.
- Reach and maintain a fit weight: A healthy weight is a weight that drops your risk for health problems together with heart disease. Intake of heart-healthy foods and being on the go can support you accomplish your weight and lower your possibility.
If you are experiencing symptoms of angina, you can consult the team of American board-certified internists who is offering complete cardiovascular disease management at Island Medical Consultants – an internal medicine group that is serving in Staten Island, NY. You can book an online appointment by visiting the website or call 718-727-1898 for an immediate medical emergency.
***Disclaimer: The material presented in this article is only for educational and informational purposes. It doesn’t constitute any medical advice and it is not meant to be a substitute for doctor or professional advice. You should seek a health care provider for any symptoms before starting any of these treatment options.