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What does angina feel like?
We hear it in the news, see it online and watch medical programs that talk about angina. What is it and what does angina feel like?
Angina is a condition where the demands of the heart outweigh the blood supply of the arteries. Other potential reasons for angina involve cardiac rhythmic disorders, heart valve disease and disease of the heart muscles. Many patients describe similar symptoms, but not all patients have the same symptoms. Since angina often involves inadequate oxygen supply to the heart, it is not surprising that symptoms seem to occur during high stress or exercise situations and seem to calm down during times of relaxation.
When asked what does angina feel like, patients usually describe it as a feeling of pressure on the chest or chest tightening. It has also been described as a vice like grip on the chest area. There is a myriad of accompanying symptoms that include: Jaw, neck, shoulder and arm discomfort; nausea, lightheadedness or dizziness, sweating, shortness of breath, indigestion, feeling of depression, and general weakness.
There are four types of angina and the symptoms vary with each type. Stable angina seems to last about five minutes and pain symptoms are almost always the same. Unstable angina can occur at odd times, even when at rest and can be a surprise, lasting as long as thirty minutes. Variant angina occurs at night or morning with a tendency to be more severe. Microvascular angina is more severe and lasts longer than the other three types. This last type may be a warning of an impending heart attack.
In Europe and the United States, the most common cause of angina is atherosclerosis. This is a progressive disorder that involves the deposit of cholesterol and other substances on the walls of the arteries. The deposits build up and diminish the ability of blood flow. High fat and cholesterol diets have been attributed to the increase in atherosclerosis. Medical studies done on U.S. soldiers after the Korean conflict proved an alarmingly high rate of cholesterol build up.
Determining a diagnosis of angina requires a bit of in depth work by your physician. Careful study of symptoms, lifestyle and family history is combined with blood work. The best method for determination is an angiography. This is an outpatient procedure that involves insertion of a long thin catheter into the artery. It is typically entered via the groin or arm area and threaded through until it reaches the heart area. A dye is injected and the path of the dye is observed as it goes through the heart. This procedure is standard but can be dangerous is the patient is already experiencing diagnosed heart problems. An electrocardiogram is another tool of medical technology that is useful in measuring the electrical activity of the heart. A treadmill stress test will monitor the heart activity while the patient is on a treadmill. The stress level can offer warning signs of a potential heart problem.
While angina itself does not mean you are having a heart attack, it does equate to potential heart problems in the future.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
|Angina25 Mar 2010