The term angina refers to a pain experienced in the heart. It is an extremely common condition, with over 10 million people in India diagnosed with it each year. As heart disease is amongst the top three causes of global deaths, patients must be extremely vigilant about their heart health. Thus, if you experience any pain or any odd sensation in your chest or heart, you should visit a cardiologist immediately. In this article, we will talk about some of the main angina causes, symptoms, and treatment, as well as a few effective home remedies that you can try.
- What Does an Angina Feel Like?
- What are the Common Angina Symptoms?
- What are the Main Angina Types?
- Causes of Angina:
- Who is at a Risk of Angina?
- What are the Complications of Angina?
- How Can You Prevent Angina From Developing?
- How is an Angina Diagnosed?
- How is Angina Treated?
What Does an Angina Feel Like?
Angina has a very distinct sensation. Patients who experience angina symptoms often describe it as a squeezing sensation in their chest. It may also feel like a tightness or a heaviness in the chest. Many patients describe pain as a heavy weight that has been placed on the chest. Although these sensations are quite identifiable, it is important to note that they are not different from any other chest pain symptoms that you may feel – such as those associated with gas or indigestion. Thus, do not start panicking if you experience chest pain. Try to stay calm and visit a doctor.
What are the Common Angina Symptoms?
The following are the main angina symptoms that patients must watch out for:
- Pain in the chest or discomfort, as described above
- Pain in the jaw, back, neck, arms, and shoulder
- Shortness of breath
What are the Main Angina Types?
There are two main angina types that can determine the approach the doctors take.
- Stable angina: A stable angina is something that occurs only when you exert yourself. The minute you start to rest, the angina symptoms fade away. This angina type only lasts a short while, such as for 5 minutes. Patients with stable angina may experience recurrent episodes when they exert themselves, and can also begin to predict the onset.
- Unstable angina: Unstable angina is considered a medical emergency. It occurs when the body is at rest too and is unexpected. It generally lasts longer than stable anginas do, such as 30 minutes. Patients who suffer from stable angina can also suffer from unstable angina so one should not rule out the latter if they’ve already got the former.
- Angina in Women: It is important to note that women often present with symptoms that are different from women, especially when it comes to cardiovascular disease. As a result, women are more prone to delaying seeking treatment. The common angina symptoms in women are nausea, shortness of breath, stabbing chest pains as opposed to squeezing pressure, and discomfort in the back, jaw, or neck.
Causes of Angina:
There are many different causes of angina, however, the main reason why this condition occurs is due to a reduction in the blood flow to the heart. This can occur due to many reasons such as:
- Coronary artery disease: In this, the arteries that bring blood to your heart begin to narrow down due to fatty deposits. As a result, your heart receives lesser blood, which can lead to an angina.
- Blood clots: If a clot blocks the supply of blood to the heart, it can lead to an angina.
- Spasms in the coronary artery: Often caused by smoking, emotional stress and cocaine use.
Who is at a Risk of Angina?
The following factors can put patients at risk for developing an angina:
- Tobacco use
- High blood pressure
- High triglycerides and cholesterol levels
- Lack of exercise
- Family history
What are the Complications of Angina?
Untreated angina can lead to a heart attack. Some of the heart attack symptoms that accompany an angina include:
- Pain in the chest that radiates to the teeth, shoulders, back, and arms
- Squeezing sensation in the chest
- Impending sense of doom
- Prolonged pain, especially in the upper abdomen
- Shortness of breath
How Can You Prevent Angina From Developing?
In order to prevent anginas and other heart problems, you must indulge in a healthy lifestyle. Some of the ways to do so are:
- Quit smoking
- Reduce drinking
- Monitor any other cardiovascular issues you may suffer from like high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol
- Reduce the stress you face
- Start exercising regularly
- Eat a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy body weight
How is an Angina Diagnosed?
Doctors lead the diagnosis with a physical exam and a few questions about your medical history. Then, they order a few diagnostics tests that help confirm the presence of angina. Some of these tests include:
- Stress Test
- Chest X-ray
- Nuclear stress test
- Cardiac MRI
- Coronary angiography
- CT scans
Based on the results, the doctors can confirm an angina diagnosis.
How is Angina Treated?
There are many types of angina treatments, but the main ones revolve around lifestyle changes and medications.
This aspect of angina treatment is crucial because the lack of these changes can lead to a worsening of heart conditions. Some of the lifestyle treatments that you must make include:
- Lose weight
- Stop smoking
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Avoid large, heavy meals
- Avoid stress
- Treat other cardiovascular conditions you may have like high cholesterol and triglycerides
- Manage your diabetes, if you suffer from it
Angina medicines make up a big part of the treatment plan too. Doctors may prescribe Beta-blockers, clot preventing medicines, statins, blood pressure medications, calcium channel blockers, and nitrates to help patients combat their angina.
If lifestyle changes and medicines do not work, the doctors may recommend surgery. The two main angina surgeries are:
- Angioplasty and stenting: During this, the surgeon inserts a small balloon into the artery. The balloon is inflated in order to help the artery expand, and then a wire mesh known as a stent is added. This helps improve the blood flow to the heart by keeping the artery open.
- Coronary artery bypass surgery: During this, the surgeon uses an artery or vein from any part of the body to bypass the blocked one. This can help improve the blood flow to the heart significantly. The treatment can be used for both, stable and unstable anginas, if other treatment options have not worked.
Remember that as heart patients, you must be extremely vigilant about your health at all times. It is never too late to make positive changes in your life, especially those related to your health. So, try an incorporate a heart healthy diet in your life and stay on the lookout for any signs of heart trouble!