Stable angina is chest pain or discomfort that typically occurs with activity or stress. The pain usually begins slowly and gets worse over the next few minutes before going away. It quickly goes away with medication or rest, but may happen again with additional activity or stress.
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Angina or angina pectoris is a recurring pain or discomfort in the chest developed when part of the heart muscle does not receive enough blood. Angina is a common symptom of coronary artery disease (CAD) caused by narrowing of coronary arteries. Angina usually resolves within a few minutes by rest or with angina medications.
Three major types of angina have been described based on the cause, pattern and duration of pain.
The heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to body cells through the arteries and our veins carry deoxygenated blood from body cells to the heart and then lungs for oxygenation. Coronary arteries supply pure blood to the heart muscle. Narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries reduces blood flow and deprives the heart muscle of oxygen. The heart responds to the lack of oxygen by sending impulses in the form of angina pain.
One of the causes for narrowing of arteries in atherosclerosis. It is the deposition of fatty material called plaque on the arterial walls. Plaque becomes thick, hard and narrows the space for blood flow until finally blocking the arteries.
Certain factors can increase the risk of developing angina and some factors trigger angina pain.
The risk factors include:
Triggers of angina include:
Chest pain is the characteristic symptom of all types of angina. Other symptoms may vary depending on the type of angina.
Chest pain may be due to angina or other conditions. To confirm the diagnosis, your physician will perform certain tests.
Treatment of angina requires multiple approaches. Different treatment options include:
Make certain modifications in your life style to prevent or lower risk of complications, such as:
Medications remain the main stay of treatment as they help to control the symptoms and also improve heart health. Several medications are available for angina and in some cases multiple medications may be prescribed.
Antiplatelet agents help prevent heart attacks by stopping clot formation in arteries.
Vasodilating agents available as pills to be placed under tongue, sprays, or patches act by dilating blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the heart providing instant relief from angina pain.
Other medications such as blood pressure lowering agents, anti-anxiety agents, and cholesterol-lowering agents may also be prescribed.
When lifestyle changes and medications are not sufficient to control angina, your doctor may suggest surgery or invasive procedures.
Most patients do not have complications after angioplasty and bypass graft surgery, however certain complications may occur, and they include:
Specific complications of bypass graft surgery include:
Angina is a threatening condition so it is better to take precautions and prevent its development. Discuss with your cardiologist and adopt certain lifestyle modifications to stay healthy.