Chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscles.
Angina is caused from blood restriction to the heart. It is described as a type of chest pain that can be felt like squeezing and tightness in your chest.
Angina is a symptom of coronary heart disease, it is also associated to heart attack and stroke so it is important for angina to be recognised and managed.
Symptoms of angina include
- Chest pain. A tightening, dull, heavy, squeezing or burning sensation
- Pain spreading to your arms, neck, jaw, back or shoulder
- Shortness of breath
- Triggers can include stress or exhaustion
What are the causes?
The most common cause for angina is coronary heart disease. It is the narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to your heart, when narrowed blood and oxygen are restricted. The arteries can be narrowed by plaque and this ultimately causes the symptom of angina.
Other causes of angina can be associated with other conditions such as coronary artery spasm which is when the arteries what supplies the blood to the heart goes in to spasm. Another cause is microvascular angina which can be caused from physical exertion.
An unhealthy diet, smoking or chewing tobacco, ageing and family history are all risk factors for coronary heart disease and angina.
Types of angina
There are two types of angina, stable and unstable.
Stable – often triggered by stress, physical activity and emotions. Will subside after a few minutes of resting. During these types of events your heart will be under extra strain and will need more blood, but because of the fatty build up your heart does not get the blood and oxygen it needs, this causes the symptom of angina.
Unstable – can be very unpredictable and lasts a lot longer. Doesn’t disperse when resting. Angina may be caused by blood clots quickly building up and reducing blood flow to the heart, this explains why it does not subside once resting.
Diagnosis and treatment for angina
Diagnosis for angina can be quite simple by just explaining your symptoms to your doctor. They may want to confirm this diagnosis by running some tests such as an ECG, stress test, echocardiogram or nuclear stress test.
These tests will allow the doctor to see images of your heart and how it performs under stress which will confirm angina.
Once a diagnosis has been confirmed then treatment will be necessary.
Medication is usually the first and main course of treatment. This will help manage the attacks, prevent further ones and reduce the risk of heart attacks.
It will be suggested to lead a more healthier lifestyle and to stop smoking.
Lastly, further treatment such as a coronary angioplasty or heart bypass surgery may be needed to treat coronary heart disease.