Angina pectoris is recurring chest pain or discomfort that happens when some muscles of the heart do not receive enough oxygenated blood to carry out their pumping function efficiently. It is a symptom of coronary artery disease (CAD), which occurs when the coronary arteries become narrowed due to atherosclerosis, or blocked due to a blood clot.
In this condition, you are likely to experience pain in the center of the chest, which may also travel into the neck, jaw, and arms (especially the left, where you heart is situated). The pain is usually described as a crushing or heavy or gripping pain. Sometimes you may also feel breathless.
Angina is generally caused because the muscles of the heart do not receive enough oxygen (via the blood) for the work they are performing. This is because the blood vessels that supply the heart muscles with oxygen may have become narrowed due to high cholesterol buildup.
Another reason is that the blood vessels begin to narrow down with age. Obese people and diabetics are also at a greater risk of this condition. It mostly follows physical exercise, but may also be triggered by emotional stress, heavy meals, or going out in cold weather, and smoking.
If you think you have angina pectoris you should consult your doctor. He may well prescribe some tablets to keep under your tongue, or the same medication as a spray. They work by opening the blood vessels, and as a result may give a side effect of throbbing headache. However, this side effect usually wears off after the first two or three tablets.
Angina usually lasts no longer than ten minutes, and if you get it you should stop what you are doing and take one of the tablets or a puff of the spray under your tongue. If your symptoms are not controlled by drugs, your doctor may refer you to a heart specialist (cardiologist) for consideration of further treatment. It is likely that at this stage you would have a test to show up the blood vessels, which supply oxygen to the heart muscle.
Further treatment is not necessary except in quite advanced cases which involves either using a tube to enlarge the blood vessels or bypassing the blood vessels with alternative vessels.
Here are some of the preventive measures for you:
- Do not smoke
- Lose weight if you are over weight
- Eat a low fat diet with a good fiber intake
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid unnecessary stress and learn relaxation techniques
- Reduce the consumption of alcohol
- Reduce the intake of salt in your diet
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.