What is Angina?

Angina is condition of intense chest pain when the heart muscles do not get enough oxygenated blood. A severe discomfort similar to indigestion, pain or discomfort in shoulders, arms, neck, back or jaw is also categorized as angina pain.

Keep in mind that all types of chest pain are not angina or signalling heart disease.

Is angina a disease?

No. Angina is not a disease. It is one of the major symptoms of coronary artery disease.

What is Coronary Artery Disease?

Coronary artery disease is a serious condition that happens when plaque gets accumulated in the inner walls of the arteries. The plaque build up in the arteries is called atherosclerosis. As a result, the arteries become rigid and narrowed, restricting oxygenated blood to the heart. The plaque can rupture leading to a sudden heart failure. It is one of the most common heart diseases.

Different types of angina

There are different types of angina namely microvascular angina, stable angina or chronic angina, unstable angina and variant angina or Prinzmetals angina.

Variant angina and microvascular angina: The angina that occurs due to abnormal narrowing or relaxation of the blood vessels. This type of angina can occur without underlying coronary artery disease.

Stable or chronic angina: This type of angina occurs at times of physical exertion or emotional stress.

Unstable angina: This type of angina does not follow any pattern. It often occurs while at rest unexpectedly. It is a rare type, but dangerous. It might be a signal for a future heart failure.

Risk factors of angina

Angina is normally seen at men after 45 years of age and woman after 55 years of age. You are at a higher risk for angina if you have:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol or triglyceride levels 
  • Family history of coronary heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Tobacco usage
  • Lack of exercise  
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Unhealthy diet and lifestyle
  • Diabetes

When should you visit doctor?
You need to visit the doctor in case of any chest pain to be on the safe side. The doctor will ask you a series of questions and do a thorough physical examination. For further check-up, the doctor may suggest you the following tests.

  • Stress test 

  • Blood test

  • Cardiac catheterization 

  • X-ray of the chest

  • Electrocardiogram 

  • Coronary angiography

  • Computed tomography angiography  

How is angina treated?
The treatment of angina largely requires a change in your lifestyle. First of all, it is essential to detect what type of angina you have. If the angina is mild, you may have to undergo medication under the supervision of a cardiologist, along with proper diet, healthy lifestyle and routine exercise. The medications will include aspirin, nitrates, beta blockers, statins, calcium channel blockers, etc depending on the condition of the patient.
Treatment for angina may include:
Angioplasty and stenting: Angioplasty is a process by which a tiny balloon is inserted in the narrowed artery using a catheter. The doctor inflates the balloon to widen the artery. A stent or a metal tube is inserted in the artery to keep it open.

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