Signs of Angina That You Must Not Overlook
Angina is the result of a lack of proper blood flow to the heart. When the heart is not properly supplied with the oxygen rich blood it needs to perform, chest pain or pressure may occur.
The discomfort may also be present in the jaw, neck or shoulders. Other symptoms include sweating, nausea, dizziness and shortness of breath.
It is important to be aware that angina is a symptom, not a disease. It is caused by coronary artery disease or CAD. There are different types of angina: stable, unstable, Prinzmetal’s and microvascular. Depending on what type of angina you have been diagnosed with, symptoms may vary. If you’re experiencing any type of chest discomfort, it is important to see your doctor.
The discomfort of stable angina occurs when the heart is caused to work harder and is generally predictable. Those with stable angina can relate increased or prolonged physical activity or stress with the onset of symptoms. The discomfort generally:
- Is short-lived, from one to fifteen minutes in duration
- Relief is gained by resting or the use of medication
- Resembles indigestion
- Can travel across the shoulders, down the arms or to the jaw
Unstable angina is more serious than the stable type. The discomfort may occur while resting, during sleep or with minimal exertion. The sudden onset of chest pain, pressure or discomfort is a strong indicator that you may be suffering a heart attack – seek medical advice immediately. The pain generally:
- Has a sudden onset
- Is not relieved when resting or by the use of medication
- Becomes worse with time
- Lasts more than fifteen minutes
Prinzmetal’s angina is also referred to as Variant Type Angina. It is caused by spasms in the vessels that supply blood to the heart. It is a chronic condition and requires lifelong medical management. See a doctor regularly if you have this type of angina. The discomfort generally:
- Is severe in intensity
- Occurs when resting or during the early morning
- Is typically relieved with the use of medication
Microvascular angina is the symptom of disease within the smallest arteries of the heart’s circulatory system. It affects post-menopausal women, persons with diabetes and those with high blood pressure. There is usually a family history of heart disease.
- Is usually more severe and of a longer duration
- Is usually accompanied by other symptoms such as shortness of breath, sleep disorders and excessive fatigue
- Usually occurs with routine activities and during emotional stress
Because there are so many different symptoms and causative factors, any type of chest pain or discomfort should be checked by a physician. Those who have been diagnosed with angina should keep regular appointments with their doctor. Changes in the severity or duration of episodes or the appearance of additional symptoms are reasons to ask your doctor medical questions. If pain or discomfort is not relieved with the use of medications and rest, a heart attack may be imminent and emergency medical treatment should be sought.