Know the basics
What is unstable angina?
Angina is a chest pain resulting from reduced blood and oxygen to the heart. It can be a symptom of coronaryy artery disease, or atherosclerosis, when cholesterol and fats (plaque) build up inside arteries. Angina can also occur from a spasm of muscles in the coronary artery.
Unstable angina is increasing unpredictable chest pain. It does not follow a pattern, it can happen without exertion and does not go away by resting or taking medicine.
How common is unstable angina?
Unstable angina is a common disease. Scientists haven’t been able to find out which groups have higher chance of getting unstable angina.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of unstable angina?
Symptoms include mild or sever discomfort or pain in the chest, felt as tightness, dull ache, or heaviness that begins in the chest and sometimes spreads to the back, eck, left shoulder, and down the arms (especially left arm). Pain may be dull or sharp or feel like heatburn or indigestion. Some people describe a smothering or crushing pain.
Sweating, neusea, feelin gfaint or weak, dizziness, or shortness of breath may also occur.
Symtomps often occur at rest with little exertion and are sever, long-lasting, and can’t be predicted or helped by rest or medicine.
There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have prolonged chest pain, please consult with your doctor for diagnosis.
Know the causes
What causes unstable angina?
Blood clots, which form plaques in the arteries, break open and block arteries. Clots may form, party dissolve, and re-form. Untreated blood clots may grow enough to block an artery completely and cause a heart attack.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for unstable angina?
There are many risk factors for unstable angina, such as:
- Age and sex: males over 60 and women after menopause.
- Family history with heart diseases.
- People who eat high-fat high-cholesterol foods.
- People who don’t exercise regularly.
- People with diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor.
How is unstable angina diagnosed?
The doctor will take a medical history, do an examination, and blood tests. Electrocardiography (ECG) and x-ray may be used to evaluate any cardiac cell injury. Heart and breathing rates, blood pressure, and blood oxygen levels are measured.
If a blockage is suspected, the doctor may also look at heart arteries by a special x-ray test. A specialist in heart diseases will pass a thin, flexible tube through an artery in the groin or arm to the heart arteries.
How is unstable angina treated?
First, the doctors will stabilize a person’s condition. Painkillers, aspirin, and oxygen may be given. Other drugs may be given to control blood pressure and open arteries. E.g. a nitroglycerin capsule that dissolves inside the mouth widens the heart’s blood vessels.
Later treatment include drugs (e.g. apirin, clopidogrel, heparin) to stop clotting, medicines to lower clood pressure, and drugs (statins) to reduce blood cholesterol and fat level.
If medication doesn’t work, surgery (angioplasty, an operation to open the blood vessels using a tiny balloon) may be needed. A small wire mesh tube, called a stent, is often inserted into the blocked artery after it has been opened to prevent it from narrowing again.
Open heart surgery (coronary artery bypass graft, or CABG) may be necessary for severely blocked arteries. In CABG, veins or arteries are transferred and sewn on to blocked arteries so that blood flow can get pass the blockage.
Lifestyle Changes & Home Remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies help manage unstable angina?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with unstable angina:
- Visit your doctor regularly and take prescripted medicines.
- Control weight and eat healthily.
- Always carry nitroglycerin with you and take it if needed.
- Educate your family and friends on how to give medical care if a heart attack happens.
- Exercise only when approved to do so by your doctor.
- Quit smoking.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders / Elsevier, 2012. Print edition. Page 63.
Unstable angina. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/SymptomsDiagnosisofHeartAttack/Unstable-Angina_UCM_437513_Article.jsp. Accessed September 27, 2015.
Unstable angina. PubMed Health. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001250/. Accessed September 27, 2015.
Review Date: August 16, 2016 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019