Angina is a condition in which you experience a sharp pain in the chest due to insufficient blood supply to the heart. It can feel like your chest is strongly pressed down or squeezed. You may also have aches in your shoulders, neck, arms and back.
Your heart muscle needs oxygen in your blood to operate. If your blood flow is somehow limited, your heart muscle will ache from oxygen deprivation. The main reason of reduced blood supply is fat deposits in your major arteries. Angina only appears when your heart works hard, such as when you engage in physical activities. When your body is at rest, your oxygen demand lowers, your heart muscle gets enough oxygen, angina does not show up.
Types of angina
There are three types of angina:
- Stable angina comes with physical activities when your heart needs more blood but cannot get enough through the narrowed arteries. Other triggers of stable angina are stress, cold temperature, big meals and smoking.
- Unstable angina occurs when a blood vessel suddenly burst, causing a clot that blocks the blood supply to the heart. Unstable angina cannot be fixed with plenty of rest like stable angina. Without immediate medical attention, the oxygen deprivation can kill your heart muscle, resulting in mortality.
- Variant angina occurs when the artery is narrowed temporarily by a spasm. It can show up even when you are not physically active. Even though it may hurt badly, it can be eased with medications.
Treatment for angina
Depending on your type of angina, your doctor will come up with the most suitable treatment for you. Available options include medications and surgery. If your angina is not immediately life-threatening, you can treat it by adjusting your lifestyle:
- Quit smoking
- If you have medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes or high blood pressure, try to keep your condition under control.
- Get plenty of rest and pace yourself.
- Eat in small proportion.
- Learn to manage stress.
- Maintain healthy eating habits with lots of veggies and whole grains. Avoid saturated fat.
Consult with your doctor for an exercise routine that fits your condition.
Even though angina is not completely avoidable, a healthy lifestyle can lower your risk. In addition, keep in mind that not all chest pain is angina. A sudden pain in the chest can be a warning sign of another much more serious illness. Therefore, if you experience chest pain, visit a doctor as soon as possible to check for any underlying issues.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnose or treatment.