Angina pectoris or chest pain produces squeezing effect on your chest. It is formed when there is disruption of blood flow in the heart muscles. Angina is indicative of coronary heart problem and it gives tightness or heaviness to the chest. An individual getting this sort of chest pain may feel as though someone is standing on his chest and squeezing it. The pain can be relatively common but it is difficult to differentiate angina pain from other types of chest pain.
Angina pain is associated with some of the symptoms like chest pain, discomfort, nausea, pain spreading to arms and neck, extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, restlessness, sweating and confusion. There would be fullness feeling in the chest and high pressure on this area. It is often described as squeezing pain or placing heavy weight on the chest.
The symptoms may vary from one person to other and also the rate of severity. However if you find new type of chest pain or discomfort you should seek immediate medical advice.
Stable angina is marked by the following features. It may develop when you put your heart to hard work like that of strenuous exercises or climbing stairs rapidly. This type of chest pain can be predicted and the same person would have experienced the same earlier. The duration of the pain will be maximum 5 minutes or even less. You may feel symptoms of indigestion and the pain may spread to left shoulder or back. The stable angina gets induced when you are in emotional state of mind.
Unstable angina type is more alarming than the earlier one. It may occur even when you are sleeping. The pain would be different and not the usual one. The pain may occur at sudden or unexpected moments. It may lasts for more time (probably 30 minutes or even one hour) than stable angina pain. Unstable angina is indicative of heart attack.
The main cause for angina pain is decrease in oxygenated blood flow to the heart muscle. This condition is described as Ischemia and is characteristic feature of coronary heart disease. Here the arteries gets narrowed down or constricted due to repeated deposits of fat particles called plague. This condition is called atherosclerosis.
As said earlier, stable angina is triggered when you are exercising during which it becomes difficult for the heart to meet the normal function due to reduced oxygen supply. Living in cold climate and taking heavy meals can trigger stable angina apart from heightened emotion.
Unstable angina pain can be the result of blood clot formed in the arteries of the heart. It occurs almost suddenly and may lead to sudden decrease of blood flow to the heart. Conditions of anemia can induce this problem in addition to narrowing of coronary arteries. It may lead to heart attack when the muscle or tissues dies due to lack of oxygen.
Who are at risk ?
Obesity, use of tobacco, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, increased blood cholesterol, old age, stressful situation and lack of exercise are the factors that may trigger angina pain. People with history of coronary heart disease are also under the risk of getting angina.
Your doctor will examine you physically after hearing to the symptoms. He may perform tests like ECG, chest X-ray, stress test, blood test (to check leakage of enzymes) and coronary angiography. Not all the tests are done for the same patient and the nature of test varies with the symptoms and health condition of the person.
Medications, angioplasty and lifestyle changes are the best possible treatment for angina. Depending on the severity of the symptoms and health condition of the patient, treatment may vary. However the purpose of treatment is to reduce the symptoms and lowering the risk of getting heart attack.
Medications like aspirin are given for reducing blood clot formation and for removing the constriction of the arteries. Nitrates are prescribed for controlling angina pain and for widening the blood vessels. Beta blockers and calcium channel blockers are helpful in relaxing the blood vessels and improving blood flow.
ACE inhibitors are administered for controlling blood pressure and for easing out the congestion in the narrowed arteries.
For some patients, angioplasty is done for widening the artery to facilitate normal blood flow. In severe cases, coronary artery surgery (bypass) is done for clearing the block and a bypass is created for preventing narrowing of arteries.
Lifestyle changes :
For people who are diabetic, medications are given suitably to manage blood sugar level. For obese persons, dieting and exercising is the best option. For those who work in stressful environment, it is necessary to take a short break and practice meditation and relaxation techniques to reduce stress. Avoid eating large meals that gives bloating. Include healthy and nutritious meal plan and practice exercise daily.