Angina


Chest | Cardiology | Angina (Disease)


Description

Angina is chest pain that originates in the heart muscle during physical activity. Angina is usually felt as: pressure, heaviness, tightening, squeezing, or aching across the chest, particularly behind the breastbone.

This pain often radiates to the neck, jaw, arms, back, or even the teeth. Patients may also suffer: indigestion, heartburn, weakness, sweating, nausea, cramping, and shortness of breath.

Causes and Risk factors

The pain is due to an inadequate supply of blood to the heart muscle. Angina is typically described as squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightness or pain in your chest.

Angina is classified in one of two types: stable or unstable angina. Stable angina is usually triggered by physical exertion, emotional stress, cold temperatures, heavy meals and smoking. Unstable angina can be caused by conditions such as plaques in a blood vessel rupture or a blood clot forms or severe anemia. The most common cause of angina is coronary artery disease, a narrowing of the arteries that supply the heart muscle.

Conditions that exacerbate or provoke angina: medications, vasodilators, excessive thyroid replacement, vasoconstrictors, polycythemia which thickens the blood causing it to slow its flow through the heart muscle.

The following risk factors increase your risk of coronary artery disease and angina: tobacco use, diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels, personal or family history of heart disease, older age (men older than 45 and women older than 55 have a greater risk than younger adults), lack of exercise, obesity, stress.

Diagnosis and Treatment

There are many options for angina treatment, including lifestyle changes, medications, angioplasty and stenting, or coronary bypass surgery. The goals of treatment are to reduce the frequency and severity of your symptoms and to lower your risk of heart attack and death. The most specific medicine to treat angina is nitroglycerin....