Shortage of oxygen supply to head is a cause of angina
Being overweight, unfit, and eating a high fat diet increases the chances of developing angina, especially if combined with stress.
It varies from vague discomfort to a massive, crushing pain and nearly always occurs when there are extra demands on the heart due to exercise, emotional stress, exposure to cold or the wind, or if extra blood is needed in the stomach and intestines to digest a heavy meal.
Is angina a heart attack can be treated?
Angina is caused by a shortage of oxygen and other nutrients reaching the heart muscle. This occurs most often when the coronary arteries, which encircle and nourish the heart muscle, become narrowed or clogged with deposits of fatty plaque (atherosclerosis).
Some people may experience angina even when they are not exerting themselves, perhaps even while sleeping. Scientists think this variation is caused by a spasm or constriction of the coronary arteries, usually but not always at the site of atherosclerosis. This is referred to as resting angina.
Chest pain behind the breastbone.
Pressure, tightness, or burning in the chest.
Pain radiating to the arms, neck, jaw or back.
Chest pain that occurs during exercise, after a heavy meal, on a cold windy day, or when stressed.
How to know that, is angina a heart attack?
Angina is diagnosed by symptoms, physical examination, and tests such as an exercise stress test or coronary angiography (an X-ray study of the heart’s circulation).
Rest, and the use of medications containing glyceryl trinitrate (a drug which dilates the blood vessels) will usually relieve an attack. The heart’s demand for oxygen can also be modified with drugs such as beta blockers.
These reduce blood pressure and slow the heart rate, thus reducing demand for oxygen. Angina tends to be a progressive disorder and is often, but not always, a predictor of a heart attack.
In some people, the condition can go on for many years with little change. This is called stable angina. Others, however, may experience increasingly frequent or severe attacks, termed unstable angina.
What can I do to avoid angina?
Stop smoking as it increases the risk of developing atherosclerosis. Lose excess weight and adopt an exercise schedule approved by your doctor.
Lower blood cholesterol by eating less fat.
Do not go out on extremely cold days.
When should I see my doctor?
If you experience chest pains, consult your doctor as soon as possible. If the pain does not subside quickly or you have other symptoms that may be associated with a heart attack, go immediately to the nearest hospital emergency department; but do not drive yourself.
What will the doctor do?
The doctor will review your medical history, perform a physical examination and use an ECG (electrocardiogram) to find any abnormalities caused by damage to the heart. Your blood may be tested to detect abnormal levels of certain enzymes in the bloodstream which would indicate a heart attack.
Tests may be needed to rule out other conditions such as indigestion, muscle disorders, infection, or anxiety. If angina is diagnosed, medication, changes in your way of life, and perhaps surgery will be prescribed.
Surgical techniques such as angioplasty or coronary artery bypass surgery can improve blood supply to the heart muscle.
Angioplasty involves using a catheter with an inflatable balloon-like tip to flatten the fatty deposits that are clogging the coronary arteries.
In bypass surgery, a segment of blood vessel from elsewhere in the patient’s body is attached after the blockage in the coronary artery and joined to the aorta (main artery leading from the heart).
What can I do myself?
Decrease your risk of an angina attack by identifying and controlling the events that lead to chest pain, such as running up a flight of stairs or racing to catch a bus, an outburst of anger or panic relating to an urgent work deadline, or being out of doors on cold, windy days.
A medically supervised exercise program can increase endurance, improve heart function, and help build up circulation to the heart muscle via secondary blood vessels.
Is angina dangerous?
See a doctor if you develop the symptoms of angina. Although an angina attack is not a heart attack, it may be a warning sign that you are at risk of one.
If angina has already been diagnosed and is being treated, you should consult your doctor immediately if you develop any symptoms of unstable angina, including any change in frequency, intensity, or duration of attacks, or if your usual dosage of glyceryl trinitrate does not relieve it.
Watch especially for any lessening in the degree of exertion leading to attacks or their occurrence at unusual times, such as while resting. Always treat these changes in symptoms as a medical emergency.