Angina is a type of chest pain that develops when your heart does not receive enough blood and oxygen. A buildup of cells, lipids, and cholesterol can obstruct the coronary arteries that feed blood to your heart over time. Plaque is the term for this accumulation. When one or more arteries become partially clogged, not enough blood can flow through, causing chest pain and discomfort. Angina is a symptom of heart disease and may not cause long-term harm to the heart. Angina occurs when a clogged artery prevents the heart from receiving adequate blood and oxygen. What does it feel like to have angina? Angina is usually only a few minutes long. Here’s how people say it feels:
• Chest feels tight or heavy.
• Hard to breathe.
• Pressure, squeezing or burning in chest.
• Discomfort may spread to arm, neck, jaw or back.
• Numbness or tingling in shoulders, arms or wrists.
When will I get angina? You may get angina when you:
- Climb stairs
- Carry groceries
- Feel angry or upset
- Work in very hot or cold weather
- Have sex
- Have emotional stress
- Combine any of these
What tests might I have?
• Blood tests
• Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
• Treadmill exercise test
• CT Coronary Angiography or Scan – 128/64 slice
• Cardiac catheterization, which shows where the artery is blocked
How is angina treated? Your doctor may give you nitroglycerin, a medicine to relieve the discomfort. Nitroglycerin: Comes as tiny tablets you put under you tongue, and as spray, capsules, skin patches and ointment. Is safe and not habit-forming.
Be sure to ask you doctor, nurse or pharmacist about:
• What to do if you get angina
• How to use your nitroglycerin the right way
What can I do about angina? Don’t give into it! You can change your way of life and lower your chance of having angina attacks. A few simple steps can help you feel more comfortable every day. They are:
- Stop smoking.
- Eat healthy meals
- Control high blood pressure and blood cholesterol level
- Learn to relax and manage stress.
- Avoid extreme temperatures.
- Avoid strenuous activities.
- Call your doctor if your angina changes. For example, if you get angina while resting or if it ever gets worse.
What can I do about angina?
Talk to your doctor, nurse or health care professional. If you have heart disease, members of your family also may be at higher risk. It’s very important for them to make changes now to lower their risk.