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Angina Pectoris

Angina pectoris, also known as angina, is chest pain or discomfort caused by a lack of oxygen-rich blood flow to the heart. As a result, your heart may beat quicker and harder to get more blood, leading you to feel pain. 

Angina is not an illness. It is both a symptom and a warning indication of underlying coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD is a condition where the arteries that supply blood to the heart become narrowed or blocked. It occurs when the heart’s arteries become narrowed or blocked due to the buildup of cholesterol and fatty deposits, known as plaques.

What causes angina pectoris?

Angina is caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle.   The most common cause includes:

·      Coronary Artery Disease (CAD):  Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the narrowing of the heart arteries due to the buildup of plaques. Plaques can rupture or a blood clot can form, blocking or reducing flow through a narrowed artery, causing angina symptoms.

Other causes include:

·      Coronary Microvascular Disease: It’s common in women and AFAB individuals. This condition damages the walls of tiny blood vessels branching from your coronary arteries. These vessels aren’t visible on standard CAD tests and need special testing not available everywhere.

·      Coronary Artery Spasm: In this condition, your coronary arteries tighten and then relax repeatedly. Thus, temporarily limiting blood flow to your heart. You can have these spasms without having CAD, which may not show up on routine CAD tests and might need special testing not offered at all medical centers

What are the symptoms of angina pectoris?

The primary symptom of angina pectoris is chest pain or discomfort, typically described as:

  • A pressure, squeezing, heaviness, tightness, or burning sensation in the chest.

Pain or discomfort that may radiate to the neck, jaw, shoulders, back, or arms. Angina pain usually lasts for a few minutes (up to 15 minutes).

Some people may have symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, or dizziness.

Who Are at Risk?

Several factors can increase the risk of angina, including:

  • Age
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Smoking
  • Long-term exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Anemia
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart valve disease
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart failure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Chronic stress

What are the complications of angina pectoris?

Angina indicates that you have coronary artery disease and that some parts of your heart do not receive adequate blood supply. If you have angina, you are more likely to experience a heart attack.

Treatment of Angina Pectoris

The goals of angina treatment are to improve blood flow to the heart and lower the risk of complications. Treatment options include:

  1. Lifestyle changes: Lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of angina and heart disease. These include:
    • eating a heart-healthy diet
    • getting regular exercise
    • quitting smoking, managing stress
    • maintaining a healthy weight
  2. Medications: Doctors may prescribe medications to relieve chest pain, reduce blood pressure, and lower cholesterol levels. Angina medications also prevent blood clots and improve blood flow to the heart.

3.    Medical procedures: If lifestyle changes and medications aren’t effective, medical procedures may be required. These include:

·       Angioplasty and stenting

·       Coronary artery bypass surgery

Prevention of Angina

Preventing angina involves reducing the risk factors for heart disease. These include:

  • Eating a heart-healthy diet
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Quitting smoking
  • Managing stress
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

Angina pectoris, caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle, is a common condition. Understanding its causes, symptoms, and treatments is crucial for heart health. Lifestyle changes like a healthy diet, regular exercise, quitting smoking, managing stress, and maintaining a healthy weight can lower the risk of angina. Prompt medical attention is vital if you experience chest pain or discomfort to prevent severe complications.

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