What you need to know heart problem angina pectoris

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Angina pectoris, commonly known simply as angina, is a medical term for chest pain or discomfort caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle.

It’s a symptom of underlying heart problems, typically coronary artery disease, where the arteries supplying blood to the heart become narrowed.

Recognizing the symptoms of angina is critical because it acts as a warning sign of heart disease and can help you seek timely medical intervention.

What Does Angina Feel Like? Angina symptoms vary among individuals, but the most common sensation is a feeling of pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of the chest. People often describe this feeling as if something heavy is sitting on their chest.

This chest discomfort may last for a few minutes and can come and go. It’s important to note that angina itself isn’t a disease; it’s a symptom of a broader heart problem.

Other Common Symptoms: Beyond chest pain, angina can manifest through various other symptoms, particularly during physical exertion or emotional stress. These include:

  • Pain in the arms, neck, jaw, shoulder, or back accompanying chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating

These symptoms occur because the heart muscle isn’t getting the oxygen-rich blood it needs to function properly, especially during activities that increase the heart’s workload.

Types of Angina: There are several types of angina, each with slightly different symptoms and implications:

  1. Stable Angina: The most common form, triggered by physical exertion or stress and relieved within minutes by rest or nitroglycerin.
  2. Unstable Angina: More serious and unpredictable, occurring at rest, during sleep, or with minimal exertion. This form doesn’t follow a pattern and can signal an impending heart attack.
  3. Variant (Prinzmetal’s) Angina: Caused by a spasm in a coronary artery, leading to temporary tightening of the artery. It occurs at rest, often at the same time each day, and can be severe.

Risk Factors and Causes: The primary cause of angina is coronary artery disease, which results from the build-up of plaque in the arteries (atherosclerosis) that supply blood to the heart. Risk factors for developing coronary artery disease include:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Older age
  • Lack of exercise
  • Obesity
  • Stress

When to Seek Medical Help: It’s essential to consult a healthcare provider if you suspect angina, as it requires evaluation and management to prevent potentially severe complications like heart attacks. Immediate medical attention is necessary if chest pain:

  • Is new or unexpected
  • Lasts longer than a few minutes
  • Occurs at rest
  • Doesn’t improve with nitroglycerin
  • Is accompanied by symptoms of a heart attack, such as intense pressure in the chest, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, dizziness, or fainting.

Prevention and Management: Managing angina involves treating underlying heart disease and may include lifestyle changes, medications, and in some cases, surgical procedures like angioplasty or coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). Lifestyle modifications can significantly impact the management and prevention of angina and include:

  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Regular physical activity
  • Quitting smoking
  • Managing stress
  • Controlling cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure

In summary, understanding the symptoms and types of angina pectoris is crucial for early recognition and management. If you experience symptoms suggestive of angina, particularly if they are new or severe, seeking prompt medical evaluation is vital.

With appropriate treatment and lifestyle adjustments, most people with angina can continue to live active lives while minimizing their risk of heart attack or other heart complications.

If you care about heart disease, please read studies that herbal supplements could harm your heart rhythm, and how eating eggs can help reduce heart disease risk.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies that apple juice could benefit your heart health, and results showing yogurt may help lower the death risks in heart disease.

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