Angina attacks occur when chest pain or discomfort is experienced when blood flow to your heart is decreased. The heart is a muscle and requires a steady supply of oxygen enriched blood to function. If this supply is decreased or interrupted, angina is experienced.
Angina is most often caused by coronary artery disease (CAD), also known as atherosclerosis. CAD occurs when fatty deposits develop along the walls of the coronary arteries, which supply the heart with blood. These deposits result in narrow arteries, which slows and decreases the amount of blood circulated. Angina can also occur when spasms affect coronary arteries. For better medical advice, please contact an specialist online or local.
Besides CAD, there are some other conditions and diseases that can cause angina.
- Conditions that affect the electrical system of the heart can cause a heart rate that is too slow or too fast, decreasing the blood supply to the heart.
- Diseased heart valves can disrupt the direction and speed of blood flow. Less blood is circulated into the coronary arteries.
- Anemia is a shortage of red cells in the blood stream. These cells are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body.
- Lung disease such as emphysema may prevent the lungs from absorbing enough oxygen to maintain adequate blood levels.
Different types of angina produce characteristic types of chest pain or discomfort. The chest pain or pressure may be felt in the back, jaws, or travel to the arms or across the shoulders. It may also be accompanied by nausea, weakness and shortness of breath.
- Stable angina usually occurs with physical exertion. Patients with this type of angina are usually accustomed to their symptoms. It is relieved with rest or medications.
- Unstable angina has a sudden, new and severe onset. This type is not relieved with rest or use of medications. It is a strong indicator that a heart attack may be experienced and medical treatment is advised.
- Variant angina typically occurs during the night or early morning hours. This type is rare and is the result of spasms within the coronary arteries.
What Triggers Angina Attacks?
Any condition or activity that decreases the supply of blood to the heart, or increases the heart’s need for oxygen can trigger an angina attack. Exercise and physical exertion increase the work of the heart, increasing the amount of oxygen needed. Stress, smoking and certain medications and illegal drugs decrease the amount of blood supplied due to narrowing or spasms of the coronary arteries.
Is it Angina?
Chest pain or discomfort can be experienced in a variety of circumstances or conditions. Knowing if your symptoms are angina is vital. If you have the following symptoms, it could be angina and you should ask a doctor.
- Discomfort in or around the chest. Also described as heaviness, squeezing, or heaviness. May also travel to the jaw, down the arms or across the back or shoulders. Angina usually occurs with physical activity or stress.
- Chest discomfort is accompanied by nausea, sweating, shortness of breath or weakness.
- The discomfort that you have is not relieved by rest.