Angina is one such medical condition that has many patients worldwide. It is often mistaken to be ordinary chest pain. Although it feels like it, it is more of a symptom that points towards deteriorating cardiac health.
Angina is a cardiac ailment associated with left side chest pain, felt as tightness, fullness or heaviness. It is a form of coronary artery disease, whereby excess fatty deposits known as plaques accumulate on the inner walls of the coronary arteries, thus narrowing them. These plaques restrict adequate blood flow to the heart, depriving the heart of the minimum oxygen, resulting in left side chest pain.
Detailed overview of the top reasons that cause angina:
Medical experts have identified the following reasons behind angina:
- Cholesterol Plaques:
Excess accumulation of cholesterol plaques on the inner walls of the coronary arteries results in decreased diameter. During physical exertions, when the heart beats faster and requires more oxygen, the narrowed arteries restrict proper oxygenation. Also, when the plaques rupture, it forms clots that further constrict the already narrowed arteries. Such conditions are responsible for arrhythmia, ventricular fibrillation, heart attack, etc.
- Atrial Flutter & Fibrillation:
Atrial fibrillation with an increased ventricular response, atrial flutter and ventricular tachycardia can also cause chest pain, breathlessness and other angina symptoms.
- Aortic Stenosis:
Narrowing of the aortal valve restricts blood from leaving the heart with each heartbeat disrupting the right speed of blood supply leading to angina.
It is a condition where the heart muscles are so damaged, that they no longer have enough strength to pump blood.
Anaemia is associated with reduced blood cells that lead to oxygen deficiency which develops fatigue, breathlessness and chest pain in patients which increases the chances of angina.
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:
Carbon monoxide poisoning can prevent oxygen from attaching to red blood cells, leading to severe chest pain.
Apart from these commonly known reasons, various hormonal abnormalities and toxic ingestion (e.g. drug overdose) also lead to triggering angina in patients.
What are the possible risk factors?
According to medical experts, angina risk factors include:
- Tobacco Use
- High Blood Pressure
- High Blood Cholesterol Level
- Genetic Factor
- Old Age
- Sedentary Lifestyle
- Mental Stress
How to diagnose angina?
Following are the clinically prescribed diagnostic procedures for identifying angina:
- Stress Test
- Blood Pressure Level Test
- Blood Cholesterol Level Test
- Chest X-Ray
- Nuclear Stress Test
- Blood Test
- Coronary Angiography
- Cardiac Computerized Tomography
- Cardiac MRI
What are the recommended treatments and preventive measures?
Medical experts usually recommend the following methods to treat or prevent angina:
- Lifestyle Alterations like exercising, maintaining a healthy diet, keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels under check, taking adequate rest, reducing alcohol and tobacco consumptions, etc.
- Medications - Nitrates, Aspirin, Beta Blockers, Clot Preventing Drugs, Statins, Blood Pressure Lowering Medications, Calcium Channel Blockers, etc.
- Surgeries - Angioplasty, stenting, coronary artery bypass surgery, etc.
[Note: Lifestyle changes usually treat angina. Medications and surgeries are recommendations when the situation is concerning and demands serious procedures]
Angina is not a disease in itself, but an indication of deteriorating cardiac health. The risk factors should be avoided or at least kept under check. Periodic medical checkups are done to ensure the heart is free from any ailment.