Angina, also known as angina pectoris is another name for discomfort in the chest resulting from the reduction in the flow of oxygen rich blood in the coronary arteries.
When a person suffers from coronary artery disease the arteries of the heart become narrow thereby reducing the flow of blood into the heart. This results in additional pressure and pain in the chest. People suffering from angina describe the discomfort very similar to the same as one feels when someone is standing over one's chest. The patient feels as if the chest is squeezing because of the pressure on it.
The patient feels as if the chest is squeezing because of the pressure on it. The pain or discomfort lasts from a few seconds to several minutes depending upon the severity of the condition. There are 3 types of angina classified on the basis of the severity of the condition. The symptoms and types are discussed in detail to give you a better understanding of the condition.
Classification of Angina on the Basis of Severity
The most common form of angina is the stable angina, which if left untreated can turn into unstable angina. The third and the rare type of angina is known as variant angina, also known as Prinzmetal's angina. All these are discussed in details below.
As the name suggests, stable angina is the term for persistent discomfort and pain in the chest which usually occurs during some excessive exertion and stress which requires more supply of blood in the heart. As the arteries are narrow and blocked, pain and discomfort is experienced.
Unlike stable angina, which is quite persistent and very much expected when the person exerts himself, however, in case of unstable angina, the pain can occur unexpectedly, all of a sudden. There is no fixed pattern and the discomfort can occur even while resting. This is considered to be a more severe situation than a stable angina and can be a signal of an approaching heart attack.
This is pretty rare and hardly occurs in people with cardiovascular problems. This is caused by spasms in the coronary muscles in the artery wall resulting in narrowing the artery and restricting the flow in the blood. These attacks are extremely painful and usually occur in the night.
Symptoms of Angina in Men
Although the symptoms of angina are similar to that of heart attack symptoms, wherein a prolonged pressure and pain on the chest is felt, the intensity depends upon the type of angina that you are suffering from. Therefore, it becomes extremely important for you to identify the signs along with the changes in the pattern of angina attacks. These are listed as follows.
- Chest pain
- Pain spreading down to the arms, neck, shoulder and even the back.
- Difficulty in breathing
- Tightness in the middle portion of the chest
- Burning sensation in the chest
- Rapid heartbeat
- Intense pressure in the chest
Statistics reveal that angina symptoms in men are more intense and severe as compared to women. While men experience a lot of pressure and chest pain while getting an angina attack, women generally feel lesser pressure and pain, but other symptoms like nausea and shortness of breath are more visible.
Treatment for Angina Pectoris
Your doctor will first ask you about the symptoms that you might be experiencing. Based on the symptoms your doctor will then perform various tests like ECG, chest X-ray, Stress test, CT scans, blood tests, and Echocardiogram.
Based on the reports of these tests your doctor will prescribe medications like blood thinners, beta blockers, nitrates, angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, etc., to treat the condition and control the symptoms that are bothering you. If the condition is extremely severe, then your doctor may also consider surgical treatment options like angioplasty or bypass surgery.
If you actually think about it, the main cause of angina lies in the way we lead our life. Therefore, it is very important to bring significant changes in our daily lifestyle and rather concentrate on adapting a more healthy and active lifestyle. Ask your doctor about the exercises that are safe for you to do under this condition. Try to consume foods which are rich in fiber and have limited amounts of saturated fats.
You must also minimize the sodium intake in your daily diet. If you are dealing with health issues like diabetes and blood pressure then you must pay extra attention in controlling the same. Minimizing your stress levels would also contribute in a major way when it comes to treating angina. So make sure that you do as your doctor advises in order to deal with this condition successfully.