Angina - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Angina, otherwise medically known as angina pectoris, is a type of chest pain that occurs when your heart cannot get enough oxygen.


Like any other organ in your body, your heart needs oxygen to function properly, that is done by the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries supply oxygen to your heart, helping it work properly. In any case, if your coronary arteries are blocked, or narrowed, this causes pain in your heart due to lack of oxygen. Keep in mind that angina is not a disease. It is a symptom of low oxygen supply to your heart.


In this article, we will discuss the types, presentation, diagnosis, risk factors, and prevention of angina.



Understanding the normal function of the heart


Your heart has four chambers, and two sides. The left side and the right side. The right side of the heart pumps blood to your lungs to receive oxygen, while the left side of your heart receives that blood from the lungs and pumps it to the whole body. 


The heart does all this work in two phases. First, the chambers of the heart relax to fill the blood known as diastole. Then, the heart contracts to eject the blood-filled in the chambers, this phase is known as systole.


Types of Angina


There are 3 main types of Angina


1. Stable Angina


This type of angina occurs due to atherosclerosis (deposition of fatty material) of a coronary artery and is triggered by physical activity. It is relieved by rest.


2.Unstable Angina


This type of Angina occurs due to the progressive narrowing of the coronary artery and can occur at rest. It has no set pattern and has a high chance of progressing to a heart attack (Myocardial infarction). 


3.Prinzmetal/Variant Angina: 


This type of angina is due to the contraction of the coronary artery that narrows it. It is more common in smokers and females. It occurs mostly at night or early morning.


Presentation of Angina

Angina typically presents as chest pain that is gripping or pressuring in character. It is felt under the chest bone, and it might feel like someone is pressing on your chest. It is never felt as a sharp or stabbing pain. The pain may travel to your jaw, neck, and back. This is known as radiation of the pain. 


Moreover, you may experience nausea, dizziness, increased sweating, and difficulty in breathing.


Diagnosis of Angina:


Your doctor might order the following tests to diagnose angina.


1.ECG: This is done by putting leads on your chest and checking the rhythm of your heart.

2.ETT (Exercise tolerance test): This is done by observing ECG at rest and then at physical exertion.

3.Coronary Angiography: In this procedure, a catheter is inserted through an artery in your body and the coronary arteries are checked for blockages.

4.Blood tests: Blood tests may be ordered for checking health conditions like diabetes and for checking levels of cholesterol and proteins in your body.

Risk Factors


The following risk factors increase your chance of getting heart disease and angina.

  • Positive family history

  • Hypertension

  • Smoking 

  • High cholesterol levels in the blood

  • Sedentary lifestyle

  • Stress and anxiety

  • Obesity

  • Diabetes

  • Age (greater for men over 45 years and women over 55 years)

Prevention of Angina

Coronary artery diseases and angina can be prevented by avoiding the factors that may increase the risk of getting them. Here are some measures that can prevent it.


  • Smoking cessation

  • Blood pressure monitoring

  • Having a diet with low cholesterol levels

  • Exercising regularly

  • Maintaining a healthy weight

  • Consuming fewer sugars and monitoring blood sugar levels for diabetes prevention

  • Taking measures to avoid mental stress


Conclusion


Angina is a treatable and preventable medical condition. By making little lifestyle changes like being physically active, consuming a healthy diet, and visiting a doctor for proper monitoring, can reduce the chance of coronary artery diseases and angina. 


If you notice the above-mentioned symptoms, and they don’t get away with rest, it is highly advisable to see your doctor on time. Timely management of angina can prevent complications like a heart attack.


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