What Are the Basics of Angina?

1 Answer

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What is the definition of angina?

Angina refers to the chest pain that occurs when there is not enough oxygen-rich blood flowing to your heart. You may feel pressure or squeezing in your heart, and it can also appear in your arms, neck, back, or shoulders.  

What are the types of angina?

There are several types of angina, including:
  • Stable angina As the most common type of angina, this can also be called angina pectoris. It is predictable, and it tends to occur when you exercise or do other things that make your heart work harder.
  • Unstable angina This is not predictable, and it can be very dangerous that it is a sign of a heart attack.
  • Variant angina Variant angina, or Prinzmetal’s angina, is a rare type. It tends to happen when you are at rest.
  • Microvascular angina This can be a sign of coronary microvascular disease.

What are the symptoms of angina?

Symptoms of angina include:
  • Chest pain
  • Chest discomfort
  • Feeling pressure, squeezing, burning in the chest
  • Pain in the arms, neck, back, or shoulders
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath

What are the causes of angina?

When the blood flowing to your heart muscle decreases, angina may occur. The most common cause of this condition is coronary artery disease. In this condition, plaques, a kind of substances, can build up in the blood vessels and narrow your heart arteries.  

What are the risk factors for angina?

These following factors can increase the risk of coronary artery disease, triggering angina:
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Obesity
  • Older age
  • Family history of heart disease

How do doctors diagnose angina?

Various tests can help your doctor diagnose your condition:
  • Electrocardiogram This is a simple test that indicates how your heart beats. It can help tell whether there is heart damage.
  • Stress test In this test, you need to exercise to make your heart beat faster and harder. When you are exercising, your doctor will monitor your blood pressure and your electrocardiogram. Then, the results can tell whether there is something wrong with your heart.
  • Chest X-ray This test helps your doctor check the image of your heart and lungs clearly.
  • Coronary angiography This test can take images of the internal side of the blood vessels in your heart.
  • Blood tests Several blood tests can check your sugar, cholesterol and protein levels.

What are the treatments for angina?

There are several treatment options, and your doctor will help you find the most suitable one. Lifestyle changes can help treat mild angina, including:
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid rich foods and eat healthier diets
  • Try to lose some weight if you are obese
  • Do moderate and regular exercise
  • Learn how to relax and reduce stress
  • Limit the intake of alcohol
Medical procedures can also be helpful, and these include angioplasty and coronary artery bypass surgery. Besides, various medications can also be the treatments.  

What are the medications for angina?

Many drugs can reduce the symptoms, and then you can feel less painful. They include:
  • Nitrates Nitrates can relax and widen your blood vessels, and doctors often use them to treat angina.
  • Beta blockers
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Aspirin
  • ACE inhibitors
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