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Angina

Angina is a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle. A sign of coronary artery disease is typically described as squeezing tightness or pain in the chest.

Angina is caused by reduced supply of oxygen-rich blood flow to the heart muscle which needs this blood to survive. When your heart muscle isn't getting enough oxygen; it causes a condition called ischemia. Another cause of reduced blood flow to the heart muscle is coronary artery disease (CAD). This happens when coronary arteries become narrowed by fatty deposits called plaques, this condition is also known as atherosclerosis.

The symptoms of Angina are

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Pain in your arms, neck, jaw, shoulder or back accompanying chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness

Different types of Angina are

  • Stable angina: It is usually triggered by physical exertion like climbing stairs, exercising or walking. In situation like this the heart requires more blood, but it becomes difficult for the muscle to get enough blood due to blocked or narrowed arteries. Characteristics of stable angina
    • Develops when the heart works harder
    • Lasts a short time
    • Disappears as soon as you take rest
    • Might spread to your arms, back or other areas
    • Can be stimulated by mental or emotional stress
  • Unstable angina. When plaques in the blood vessel rupture or a blood clot forms, it blocks or reduces the flow through an already narrow artery, severely decreasing blood flow to the heart muscle. Characteristics of Unstable angina are:
    • It can occurs even at rest
    • Is unexpected
    • In many cases it is more severe and lasts longer than stable angina
    • Might be a signal of a heart attack.
  • Variant angina: Also called Prinzmetal's angina, it is a spasm in a coronary artery, temporarily narrowing it and thus reducing blood flow to the heart, causing chest pain. Characteristics of Variant angina are:
    • It happens when you're resting
    • Is often severe
    • Can be relieved by angina medication

Treatments options for angina are

  • Medications
    • Aspirin: It reduces the ability of the blood to clot, making it easier for blood to flow through narrowed heart arteries.
    • Nitrates: They relax and widen the blood vessels allowing more blood to flow to your heart muscle.
    • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors: These drugs help to relax your blood vessels.
    • Calcium channel blockers: They relax and widen blood vessels by affecting the muscle cells in the arterial walls.
  • Lifestyle changes:
    • Quit smoking
    • Lose weight
    • Follow an optimal diet and exercise plan
    • Avoid stress
  • Surgery and medical procedure:
    • Angioplasty and stenting: During an angioplasty a tiny balloon is inserted into the narrowed artery and when the balloon is inflated it widens the artery, and then a stent is inserted to keep the artery open. This procedure increases blood flow in the heart thereby reducing angina.
    • Coronary artery bypass surgery: During this procedure a vein or artery from some other part of the body is used to bypass a blocked or narrowed heart artery. Bypass surgery helps in increasing the blood flow to your heart thereby reducing angina.

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