Angina: Recognizing and Treating Chest Pain
posted by Internal Medicine | April 26, 2017
Chest pain can be caused by a variety of factors, and there are different types of chest pain. One condition, called angina, is chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart. Angina is relatively common, but it’s also tough to differentiate among other causes of chest pain in many cases. Technically, angina is not a disease, but rather a symptom of another underlying heart problem.
In many cases, this is a moderate condition that subsides with time and rest. In others, though, it can be a serious and even life-threatening condition.
There are general types of angina:
The symptoms of angina vary between each type, but some consistent symptoms include:
The chest pain associated with angina is often described as a pressure, squeezing or fullness in the center of the chest. Many people report feeling as if a heavy weight is on the chest, where others describe it similarly to indigestion.
Women may experience different symptoms, including abdominal pain or discomfort in the neck, jaw or back—or in some cases, women may feel a stabbing pain rather than pressure.
It’s important to note anytime your symptoms change. Changing symptoms are often a sign of complications, including heart attack—if you notice any of the precursor signs of a heart attack, call 911 right away. Other more minor complications include discomfort during normal activities.
The direct cause of angina is reduced blood flow to the heart, most commonly brought on by coronary artery disease. Individual causes vary for each type of angina:
Several factors can raise your risk of angina:
For cases of stable angina and others that don’t require immediate medical attention, there are a few care options. One of the primary methods of treatment is a change in lifestyle habits to help reduce symptoms and the likelihood of complications—practicing these habits also help prevent angina altogether. These include:
Your doctor might recommend one of several medications:
A couple procedures or surgeries can be used for certain cases of angina:
If you’re developing the symptoms of angina or other chest complications, speak to your doctor about the right treatment options.
“Angina (Chest Pain).” American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/DiagnosingaHeartAttack/Angina-Chest-Pain_UCM_450308_Article.jsp#.WN6OUDvythE
“Angina.” The Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/angina/basics/definition/con-20031194
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.