Angina is a type of chest pain or discomfort that is caused by a lack of blood flow to the heart. It is a common symptom of heart disease and can be a warning sign of a heart attack. Understanding what angina is and how it can be treated can help you keep your heart healthy and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Angina
Angina can feel like pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain in the chest. The discomfort may also spread to the arms, neck, jaw, back, or stomach. Some people describe angina as feeling like indigestion. In addition to chest pain, other symptoms of angina can include shortness of breath, sweating, lightheadedness, and fatigue.
Types of Angina
There are two main types of angina: stable angina and unstable angina. Stable angina occurs when the blood flow to the heart is partially blocked, usually during physical activity or emotional stress. The pain or discomfort usually goes away when you rest or take medications. Unstable angina, on the other hand, occurs when the blood flow to the heart is severely or completely blocked. The pain or discomfort can be more severe and can happen even when you are at rest. Unstable angina can be a sign of an impending heart attack.
Causes of Angina
Angina is usually caused by a buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart. The plaque can partially or completely block the blood flow to the heart, causing angina. Other factors that can contribute to the development of angina include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and diabetes.
Treatment Options for Angina
Treatment for angina depends on the underlying cause of the condition. If angina is caused by a partially blocked coronary artery, treatment may include lifestyle changes, such as exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and quitting smoking. Medications, such as nitrates, beta blockers, and calcium channel blockers, can also help improve blood flow to the heart and reduce the frequency and severity of angina.
In some cases, more invasive treatments may be necessary to treat angina. These treatments may include angioplasty, coronary artery bypass surgery, or stenting. The goal of these treatments is to open up or bypass the blocked coronary artery and improve blood flow to the heart.
Angina is a common symptom of heart disease and can be a warning sign of a heart attack. Understanding the signs, causes, and treatment options for angina can help you take steps to reduce your risk of heart disease and keep your heart healthy. If you experience chest pain or discomfort, it is important to seek medical attention right away. With proper treatment and management, you can reduce your risk of heart disease and live a healthy life.