Angina: Causes, prevention and treatment

What is Angina?

Angina is not a disease. It is a symptom of an underlying heart problem more-specifically coronary artery disease. It caused when the heart muscle doesn't get enough oxygen-rich blood.

This usually happens because of one or more of the coronary artery narrowed or blocked called (ischemia) with a waxy substance called plaque builds up on the inner walls of the coronary arteries. Consequently, this can cause the symptoms of angina.

Patient usually feels pain or discomfort in the chest, the pain is like pressure, heaviness or squeezing in nature and some people feel the pain in their arm, neck, stomach or jaw.

Evidences from literature indicate that angina symptoms usually brought on by physical activity or effort, an emotional upset, it also increased in cold weather or after meal.

Coronary microvascular disease which is more common among women compared to men also causes angina pain. It affects hearts smallest coronary arteries. Because it affects women that’s why it is called cardiac syndrome X.

Type of angina

The major types of angina are stable angina which is most common and happens with regular patterns which is referring to (how often the angina occurs, how severe it is and what factors trigger it). As stable angina might suggest that heart attack might happen in the future. Therefore, it is highly recommended that person should learn the pattern of his/her angina.

Another type of angina is unstable angina which does not follow any pattern, it happens very often not related to effort or physical activity, it also occurs at rest and more severe than stable angina. Surely unstable angina is considered to be very dangerous, it is a sign that a heart attack might happen soon, once it happens it needs an emergency treatment.

Causes or risk factors for angina

A person who carries a high risk for coronary heart disease is also at risk for angina and these risk factors includes: High unhealthy cholesterol level in the blood; High blood pressure; Smoking; Diabetes, Overweight or obesity; Old age (according to studies the risk increases for men after 45 years of age and women after 55 years of age).

Diagnosis of angina

It is highly recommended that whoever presents with chest pain should be taken seriously to rule out coronary heart disease. If the angina happens at rest in this case emergency medical treatment is required in order to prevent heart attack.

After studying the history and physical examination by specialised doctors, patient should go through certain investigations for eg blood test, ECG (Electrocardiography), stress testing, CT angiography, or coronary angiography and cardiac catheterisation.
Treatment or management of angina

Management of angina includes, lifestyle modifications, medicines for reducing angina pain as well as for primary and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease, cardiac procedure including coronary angiography or angioplasty to open the blocked arteries and cardiac rehabilitation mainly for patient who gets heart attack.

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