Coronary Artery Disease... Angina

What Is Angina?

The body may receive its earliest warning signal of inadequate blood supply in the form of the symptom called angina. It is a name used to describe a type of chest pain or discomfort. It is symptom of coronary artery disease (CAD).

Angina is often associated with an increased demand on the heart. Some people have stable angina, and can predict when they may experience chest discomfort. Others have unstable angina, and cannot predict when they may have chest discomfort. This type of discomfort may occur during any type of activity, or even at rest.  

Symptoms of Angina

Patients have described the sensation in many ways, such as crushing, heavy-feeling, squeezing, tightness, aching, pressure, choking, and even burning and tingling.

The discomfort of angina usually occurs just under the breast-bone, located in the centre of your chest, often spreading to the left shoulder and down the arm to the back, or even up to the neck and jaw. Angina pain is often accompanied by

       – anxiety

       – difficulty in breathing, or shortness of breath (SOB)

       – sweating

       – nausea

       – dizziness

  Treatment of Angina

Angina usually lasts three to five minutes, and will usually go away with rest.

If an angina attack occurs,

       1) stop whatever you are doing

       2) rest until it passes

3) place a nitroglycerin tablet under your tongue, or use the spray

4) if the pain is not promptly relieved, take another nitro every five minutes until a total of three pills or sprays have been taken

5) if you still have angina pain, go to the nearest emergency department

6) take the medications that have been prescribed for you on a regular basis, and exactly according to your doctor’s instructions.

Treatment of Angina

  Angina may occur several times a day or infrequently, with weeks or months between. It is important to notify your doctor if your pattern of angina changes, for example if it is

       – more frequent

       – longer lasting

       – provoked by less exertion

       – occurs during rest

       – wakes you at night.

  Note that chest pain can also be caused by many conditions besides angina, such as

       – indigestion

       – anxiety

       –muscle disorders

       – infection

       – injury, and so on.

Only your doctor can determine the cause of your symptom.

  Angina is not a heart attack.  In contrast to heart attack, angina does not result in permanent damage to the heart muscle.