What Is Angina?
Angina is a type of chest pain. Although the condition is not life-threatening, it can lead to serious health complications like a stroke or heart attack if left untreated. Therefore, it is vital that we understand what angina is so we can identify symptoms and work quickly to treat it. The condition is commonly experienced by older adults, and it continues to affect thousands of people each year in the UK alone.
The main symptom of angina is chest pain. Understandably, it can be difficult to detect whether chest pain is something to worry about. However, if your chest pain falls under any of the categories below, it could be angina, and you must book an appointment with your doctor.
- Pain migrates around your body to your neck, jaw, back, or arms
- Your chest pain feels tight and heavy. In some cases, it may feel like a sharp, stabbing pain
- The pain stops within minutes of resting
- The pain is triggered by a stressful event or strenuous activity
Chest pain may also be the first sign of a heart attack. Anyone with new-onset chest pain should seek medical advice as soon as possible. It is important to have an electrocardiogram (ECG) while the pain is still present. However, this is not always possible because the pain may be intermittent. In that case, your doctor can arrange a series of heart tests to check whether the pain is of cardiac origin.
As well as chest pain, some other symptoms have been related to the condition, such as:
- Pain in your lower chest/belly
Some people who have angina may only experience these symptoms without any chest pain. Consult with your doctor if you have any concerns.
Types of Angina
You may be surprised to know that there are several different types of angina. Each one differs in terms of symptoms and severity. Let’s delve into each type below:
This is the most common form of angina. Unlike some of the other types, it is more predictable and often occurs during exertion. With enough rest and the right angina medication, the symptoms will gradually ease. Typically, chest pain with stable angina will only last for a short time.
Unstable angina is unpredictable and requires medical assistance as soon as possible. The pain can worsen during rest and lasts much longer (around 20 minutes). The pain will not go away with rest or medication and requires medical treatment to get it under control.
Caused by spasms in the heart’s arteries. Chest pain is often severe and will occur in cycles. Medication will supply some pain relief.
Chest pain is more frequent and will not improve as a result of lifestyle changes and angina medication.
What Causes Angina?
As we get older, particles of lipids accumulate inside the wall of the coronary arteries and gradually cause “furring” of the arteries. In people with cardiovascular risk factors, this process is accelerated and happens earlier in life. Therefore, it is not unusual for a 40-year-old to end up with blocked arteries, especially if there is a strong family history of coronary artery disease.
Angina occurs when the blood flow to your heart muscles is reduced. The arteries that supply blood become hardened and narrowed, due to a build-up of fatty substances, making it difficult for blood to pass through to the heart muscles. This process is called Atherosclerosis.
Medical professionals believe there are a few factors that can increase the risk of Atherosclerosis. Familiarise yourself with the list below:
- Unhealthy diet
- Lack of regular exercise
- Family history of atherosclerosis
- Old age
You can see how specific lifestyle changes like regular exercise and a healthy diet can contribute to a decreased risk of atherosclerosis. If you struggle to incorporate healthy meals into your diet, consult with your doctor, who will be able to refer you to a dietician.
Worried about your heart?
Angina Risk Factors
There are certain factors that can put you at an increased risk of angina. For example, there are some lifestyle changes, medical history, or family history that could play a role in the development of the condition. Take a look at the list of risk factors below:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Old age
- Family history of heart disease
Several cardiac tests may be required to diagnose angina. Your doctor will ask questions regarding your symptoms and family medical history. Some checks may then be necessary, such as blood tests and measuring your blood pressure to assess whether your symptoms result from a heart problem. Some tests used to diagnose angina include:
- Chest X-ray
- Stress test
- Blood tests
- MRI scan
- CT scan
Your doctor will decide which tests are required to help you get a diagnosis. It is important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible from an experienced cardiologist like Expert Cardiologist who specialises in a range of treatments for issues such as chest pain.
Treatment For Angina
Treatment for angina will vary depending on how severe your condition is. It will also vary depending on any other underlying conditions that you may have. Common treatments used for angina include:
Many cases of angina can be treated using medicines. Typically you would be prescribed medicines that relax and widen blood vessels to allow more blood to flow to your heart – and slow your heart down – so it doesn’t have to work as hard.
A tiny tube with a balloon attached is threaded through your heart. The balloon is then inflated to widen arteries and restore blood flow.
The procedure involves taking healthy arteries from other areas of your body and using them to go around blood vessels that are narrowed or blocked.
Book An Appointment With Dr Karagiannis
It is important to get an angina diagnosis as soon as possible. As discussed on this page, failure to treat angina could lead to serious health complications such as a heart attack, which can be life-threatening. Early diagnosis allows your doctor to start treatment early. You can also start making necessary lifestyle changes to better your overall health.
If you want to feel confident about your angina diagnosis, you should always book an appointment with an experienced cardiologist like Dr. Karagiannis. Not only does he have years of experience in the industry, but he provides patients with the treatment and diagnosis they deserve to better their heart health. If you would like to know more about the services Dr. Karagiannis offers, don’t hesitate to book an appointment. We aim to respond to your enquiry as soon as possible.
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