Angina Pectoris


Angina pectoris is the medical term for chest pain or discomfort. Angina is a symptom of a medical condition known as myocardial ischemia and is more commonly heard of as myocardial infraction. This occurs when the heart muscle doesn’t receive the blood and oxygen that it needs. It usually happens because of blockage or narrowing of arteries. It can occur in persons with valvular heart disease or other conditions like high blood pressure.

Angina occurs when the heart needs the addition in blood during exercise, when heat temperatures are extreme, or during emotional stress. It is a sign that the person is at a higher risk for developing a heart attack. The most common cause for angina is coronary heart disease. Risk factors for angina include diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, high LDL or low HDL cholesterol levels, and family history of heart disease. Other causes include anemia, heart failure, hyperthyroidism, and abnormal heart rhythms.

Angina can be classified as stable or unstable angina. Stable angina is a pain that typically occurs with stress or activity. It usually slows or fades within minutes and is quickly gone. Angina pectoris symptoms associated with stable angina include heavy pressure, squeezing, or tightness behind the breastbone. It is possible for the pain to spread to the back, neck, shoulders, or arms. Unstable angina is pain that is unexpected and is more often present during a resting situation. It is generally more severe and lasts longer than stable angina. It is caused by a reduction in blood flow to the muscles of the heart because of conditions like atherosclerosis or a blood clot. It is an acute syndrome and is treated as an emergency. Angina pectoris symptoms for an unstable angina includes sudden pain, shortness of breath, fainting, anxiety, and rapid or irregular heartbeat.

Angina pectoris treatment depends on the type of symptoms that are being experienced and is determined after tests are performed. Aspirin is given to patients immediately after feeling chest pain. Medicines can also be administered to help lower anxiety, blood pressure, or reduce the risk of clotting. Daily medications will be prescribed after the symptoms are controlled to prevent the recurrence of pain. Depending on the source, the type of medication prescribed will differ. After tests are examined, different procedures can be performed to treat the source of the pain. If patients are not improving with medication, an angioplasty is the next step in angina pectoris treatment. This procedure places a stent in the narrowed artery to hold it open.

There are recommendations that will help in reducing the risk for angina. Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol are important. Smoking cessation and weight loss are recommended for patients with those risk factors. Eating a diet that is heart healthy is important and helps to lower cholesterol. Exercise is recommended and helps to keep the heart healthy. Reducing the amount of alcohol that is consumed will also reduce the risk for developing angina pectoris.