Everything You Need To Know About Angina

By: Dr. Sonia Lal Gupta and Dr. Sameer Gupta

Though heart diseases do come with a warning (if looked at closely), it can be difficult to distinguish a symptom from actual disease; one such example is Angina.

Angina is an acute discomfort that is felt in chest and patients often feel a clenching pain, ranging from a few seconds to minutes. It can be described as pressure, squeezing, burning or tightness in the chest. It usually starts behind the breastbone but it can also occur in the arms, shoulders, neck, jaw, throat or back.

Angina is usually a warning sign of problems in the heart and if neglected can lead to more health issues.

To be more precise, anginal pain occurs exactly when there is a shortage of blood flow to a certain part of your heart and it can be linked to a heart disease. Anginal pain is related to Coronary artery diseases and if experience this type of pain, then you should head to your doctor immediately.

Types of Angina

Though Angina is just a symptom of heart-related diseases, it occurs at various frequencies and as different types. We have listed a few for better understanding.

Stable Angina: It is more likely to occur when blood supply to heart muscle is reduced. The condition when the coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked by atherosclerosis or by a blood clot or the Coronary Artery Disease may be the cause of stable angina pain. The pain usually occurs on exertion and decreases with rest.

Unstable Angina: Unstable anginal pain can be fatal and can be treated as a sign of having future heart attack. It can occur with or without physical exertion; even medicine and rest may not relieve the pain. Therefore, if you feel frequent pain in your chest and it shows no regular pattern, you should immediately rush to a hospital because unstable angina can be very dangerous and needs an emergency treatment.

Treatments of Angina

First and foremost you need early medical evaluation and this is best done by a cardiologist. Angina can be treated with various medicines and the treatment also depends upon severity of heart disease. But before that, your cardiologist may want to get a detailed check up of your heart. After assessing your reports, he/she may suggest some blood work, ECG, echocardiogram and a stress test. In some cases, you may need an angiography to determine the extent and types of blockage. Some medications that are used in the treatment of Angina and coronary atheroscleorosis are listed below:

  1. Oral antiplatelet medicines
  2. Beta blockers
  3. Nitrates
  4. Statin medications

Depending on the severity and location of the blockages, you may also need placements of stents or cardiac bypass surgery. But these determinations are only made on a case by case basis.

How to prevent Angina

  1. Taking proper care of your health and following a healthy diet can do wonders for your heart.
  2. Regular exercise at monitored intensity will keep your heart healthy and will prevent any heart-related diseases.
  3. Keep your cholesterol levels in check as it can lead to clogging of arteries and hence lead to anginal pain.
  4. Quit smoking Tobacco and choose healthier ways to lead your life.

In case you have a history of heart diseases in your family, make sure you keep a close watch on your health, especially with increasing age.

Dr. Sameer Gupta FACC, FSCAI, Diplomate, National Board of Echocardiography (USA)
Dr. Gupta, awarded the status of “Extraordinary Ability and Achievement” by the United States Government in 2013, is a highly skilled cardiologist specializing in Interventional cardiovascular and peripheral procedures. A native of New Delhi, Dr Gupta spent 10 years in USA to accumulate knowledge, experience & awards returning to India to deliver world-class health care to his country and serve its people.
Dr. Sonia Lal Gupta, MBBS, Diplomate of American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
Sonia Lal Gupta MD is a highly qualified Board Certified Neurologist. After completing her MBBS from Government Medical College Patiala, she pursued Neurology at New York Medical College. She graduated in 2011 becoming one of the youngest neurologists in the world at the age of 27.

Image: Diagram of discomfort caused by coronary artery disease. Pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest. Can also feel discomfort in the neck, jaw, shoulder, back or arm. Source/Author: Own work derivative of File:Aorta scheme.jpg and File:Gray1220.png / Ian Furst. Date: 16 January 2014. Access the original Image information here: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Angina_pectoris.png