Angina is an alarming heart condition - more so because, patients are unable to recognize the early signs of it, and often end up confusing Angina with ordinary chest pain arising out of indigestion. As a result, there are higher possibilities of suffering a heart attack in the shorter run.

The need of the hour is to stay informed about the causes and consequences of Angina and nip it from the bud right at the beginning.

What Is Angina?

Angina or Angina Pectoris is a type of left side chest pain associated with squeezing, pressure, or heaviness in the chest area. It usually feels as though someone has placed a heavyweight on your chest.

What Are The Symptoms Of Angina?

Angina symptoms include:

  1. Chest pain, felt as burning, pressure, heaviness or fullness
  2. Associated pain in hands, shoulders, neck, back, etc.
  3. Nausea
  4. Exhaustion
  5. Breathlessness
  6. Sweating
  7. Dizziness

These angina symptoms are clinically examined to determine whether you’re suffering from angina or not. It also identifies the type of angina you’re suffering from.

What Are the Different Types Of Angina?

Angina can be classified into the following types:

  1. Stable Angina

It is the most common form of angina. It usually happens when you exert yourself too much or engage in strenuous exercises without precaution. Some characteristics of stable angina include:

  • Develops with increasing heartbeat (during exercises or physical exertions)
  • Is predictable and identical to regular chest pain
  • Lasts for less than 5 mins
  • Usually disappears with adequate rest

Any deviation from these patterns indicates a more dangerous type of angina i.e. Unstable Angina.

  1. Unstable Angina

Unstable angina is a more severe version of stable angina with unpredictable outcomes. The characteristics include:

  • Happens even when you’re at rest
  • Frequency deviates from the usual pattern of stable angina
  • Occurs unexpectedly
  • More severe than stable angina
  • Typically lasts longer than 30mins
  • Does not disappear with rest

Unstable angina is often considered as a sign of a possible heart attack in future.

  1. Variant Angina

Variant angina (also known as Prinzmetal Angina) is the third and the rarest type. It usually happens with cardiac spasms, resulting in reduced blood flow. Characteristics of variant angina include:

  • Happens when the body is at rest
  • More severe than stable angina
  • Is usually relieved by angina medication

What Are The Possible Causes Of Angina?

  1. Tobacco Addiction
  2. Diabetes
  3. High Blood Pressure
  4. High Triglyceride Level (Cholesterol)
  5. Genetic Factor
  6. Old Age
  7. Sedentary Lifestyle
  8. Obesity
  9. Stress
  10. Anxiety

How To Diagnose Angina?

Doctors usually conduct the following tests to diagnose angina:

  1. Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  2. Stress Test
  3. Echocardiogram
  4. Nuclear Stress Test
  5. Chest X-Ray
  6. Blood Test
  7. Coronary Angiography
  8. Cardiac Computerized Tomography
  9. Cardiac MRI

How To Prevent/Treat Angina?

Angina treatments are designed to minimize the frequency and severity of the symptoms, thus reducing the possibilities of a heart attack. Following are among the most popular clinically prescribed procedures for treating angina:

  1. Lifestyle Changes

Several lifestyle changes can be incorporated to keep angina at bay. Patients are advised to:

  • Reduce Alcohol and smoking
  • Maintain ideal body weight
  • Eat healthy diet prescribed by a nutritionist
  • Balance physical workouts with intervals of relaxations
  • Keep your diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol levels under check.
  • Avoid overeating
  • Reduce workplace stress and maintain a proper work-life balance
  1. Medications

When the above prescriptions fail to show results, doctors recommend the following medicines for treating angina:

  • Nitrates
  • Aspirin
  • Clot Preventing Drugs
  • Beta-Blockers
  • Statins
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Blood Pressure Controlling Medicines
  • Ranolazine
  1. Clinical Surgeries

Surgeries are only recommended under severe conditions, when lifestyles and medicines fall short in curing angina. Two of the most recommended surgical procedures include:

  • Angioplasty
  • Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery

Things To Remember About Angina

It should be noted that angina is not an ailment in itself, but a signalling of a deteriorated health condition that may increase the possibilities of a heart attack. On noticing the early signs, patients are recommended to consult a doctor, conduct clinically prescribed diagnosis, and strictly follow the instructions related to medications or surgeries for treating Angina most effectively.