Angina is chest pain that occurs when the heart muscle doesn’t get enough blood. This condition can be caused by a number of factors, including blockages in the arteries, coronary heart disease, and heart attack. Treatment for angina typically includes medications and lifestyle changes. Read on to know how to recognise angina and the ways to prevent it.
What is Angina?
Angina is chest pain or discomfort brought on by insufficient blood flow to the heart’s muscles. Angina is a sign of coronary heart disease (CHD) that results when the main blood arteries supplying the heart become damaged or not functional. This condition is typically brought on by inflammation and cholesterol-containing deposits called plaques in your coronary arteries. The heart, just like any organ of the body, receives blood, oxygen, and nourishment from the blood via the coronary arteries.
Angina may differ in severity of pain, duration of pain, and the kind of angina one has. Moreover, the oxygen that the heart muscle requires to survive is carried by the blood. Ischemia is the medical term for the disorder that results from the heart muscle not receiving enough oxygen.
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Four Types of Angina
It’s important to understand the different angina types and how they vary.
Also known as angina pectoris, this frequently develops when the heart muscle itself requires more blood than it is receiving, often triggered by exertion or emotional stress. While the need for oxygen is low, such as when you’re sitting down, severely restricted arteries may allow enough blood to reach the heart. On the contrary, your heart works harder and uses more oxygen when doing moderate to extreme physical activities.
Acute coronary syndrome or unstable angina typically happens while you’re resting. The coronary arteries are restricted by fatty buildups, which can burst and cause injury to the coronary blood artery, in turn resulting in blood clotting and reduced blood flow to the heart muscle.
Chest pain of this nature, or angina, maybe a sign of coronary microvascular disease (MVD). The smallest coronary artery blood capillaries in the heart are impacted by coronary MVD, a form of heart disease.
Prinzmetal’s or Prinzmetal Angina
Also referred to as variant angina or angina inversa. This painful angina is a rare type and usually occurs between midnight and early morning while at rest. The spasm in the coronary arteries is the major cause of pain. Spasms are due to:
- medicine that narrows the blood vessels
- cold weather
- cocaine use
How is Anginal Pain Described?
The most common symptom of angina is chest pain or discomfort. Squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightness, or crushing are common descriptions of angina pain. It can seem like there is a big weight on your chest. The arms, neck, jaw, shoulder, or back may also experience pain.
How is Angina Different from Heartburn?
Most of the time, angina is mistakenly thought of in patients who have heartburn. The burning discomfort known as heartburn is frequently felt in the upper abdomen or lower chest. Stomach acid flowing back up the food pipe is what causes it.
Common Risk Factors for Angina
Angina is found to be caused by lifestyle factors. Some are modifiable factors. If lifestyle is altered, the impact of these modifiable risk factors can be lessened. The primary lifestyle risk factors are:
Modifiable Risk Factors
- Using illegal drugs, which can harm your heart, arteries and veins that supply it
- Using tobacco products or being around people who smoke a lot
- The use of alcohol
- The lack of exercise
- Unhealthy dietary habits
Non-modifiable Risk Factors
According to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, the following are non-modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease, which frequently cause angina if the heart’s coronaries are impacted:
The chance of developing the cardiovascular disease rises with age. So the chance to experience angina increases as the body goes through modifications as it ages. The two important changes that affect our health as we grow older are lower bone density and narrowed arteries. These, by far, are the most serious.
Although CHD poses a greater risk beyond the ages of 55 for men and 65 for women, this does not indicate that your risk starts at that point. Plaque development, a factor in CHD, starts in childhood. Because the arteries or veins that carry blood to the heart have had more time to clog, the accumulation gets worse as people age.
Significant CHD risk factors include obesity, poor diet, and inactivity, which can start before the age of 10. Childhood obesity can increase the risk of heart disease due to poor eating habits and inactivity. This is a serious issue since young people are becoming more obese and cardiovascular illness is emerging in younger people.
Risk for Men
In general, males are at a larger risk of having a heart attack than women. When other risk factors are comparable, the risk for heart disease is roughly the same for both sexes beyond the age of 65.
Danger for Men
- Compared to premenopausal women, men are more susceptible to CHD.
- Compared to women, men have a three to five times higher CHD risk.
Risk to Women
Women’s risk for cardiovascular disease considerably rises beyond the age of 65. As a result of diminishing estrogen levels after menopause, the risk for CHD rises to practically the same level as that of males. Diabetes increases a young woman’s chance of developing heart disease to the same level as males their age. Overall, death in women is more likely to happen than in males after a heart attack.
A significant predictor of one’s own risk is the family’s history of cardiovascular disease. A first-degree relative’s favourable family history is often linked to a two-fold increase in CHD risk. A family history of CHD is a combination of behavioural and genetic variables. Early adoption of healthy lifestyle habits is essential to lowering CHD.
People that have a similar cultural heritage or ancestry are referred to as being of the same ethnicity. It is also known as racing. Your ethnicity or race may be predisposed to CHD by your genetic makeup as well as environmental factors.
Since many genes are shared by members of the same ethnic group, family history and ethnicity are intimately related. Similar gene mutations may be passed down from ancestors to descendants. People of African or Asian heritage and members of first nations have a higher chance of acquiring heart disease.
Can low blood pressure cause angina?
Low blood pressure alone generally doesn’t cause angina. But it can worsen existing angina or contribute to its development of it. That’s because low blood pressure can reduce the amount of oxygen-rich blood that flows to your heart muscle.
Angina in Southport QLD
Angina is a common condition in Australia, affecting around one in every six people. The condition is more common in older Australians, with the prevalence increasing with age. Angina is also more common in men than in women in Southport.
Treatment for Angina
There are a number of different treatments for angina, and the best course of action will vary depending on the individual. In general, treatment options include:
Often the first line of treatment for angina. Commonly used medications include nitroglycerin, beta-blockers, and calcium channel blockers.
A procedure that can be used to open up blocked arteries. This procedure is typically only used when other treatments have failed.
Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG)
A surgical procedure that is used to create a new route for blood to flow around a blockage in the coronary artery. This procedure is typically only used when other treatments have failed.
Quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise can help to improve symptoms of angina.
Keep in mind that angina is a sign of heart problems. A possible emergency scenario is a heart attack. On such occasions, call triple zero (000) immediately. Lifestyle changes are crucial to avoid this condition.
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