Angina is a type of chest pain that results due to the decrease in the blood flow to the heart. When there is decreased blood flow to the heart, it means that heart is lacking sufficient oxygen. Emotional stress or physical activities are the main causes of the pain.
Angina pectoris also called as stable angina is the most common type of angina. Stable angina is predictable which means you can actually track the pattern of the chest when you feel the pain. On the other hand, unstable angina is another type of angina which occurs suddenly and gets worse over time.
Though stable angina is less serious condition both the types of angina are a symptom of underlying heart disease.
What causes stable angina?
Stable angina is a condition when the heart does not receive sufficient oxygen supply. There are many factors that can possibly reduce the oxygen supply to the heart. Some of them are:
- Emotional stress and physical activity
- Narrowing of arteries
- Accumulation of plaque (cholesterol, fat, etc) in the artery walls
- Blood clots in arteries
What are the risks factors of stable angina?
The risk factors associated with stable angina include:
- Overweight or obese
- Medical history of heart disease
- Diabetic patients
- People with high cholesterol or high blood pressure
- Lack of physical activities
Unhealthy diets, vigorous workouts and extreme cold and hot weathers can also stimulate stable angina in some cases.
What are the symptoms of stable angina?
The pain that occurs during the stable angina is referred to as pressure or fullness in the center of the chest. The pain may be like a heavy weight resting on your chest or a mild squeezing of the chest. The pain slowly spreads from the chest to neck, arms and shoulders.
One may notice the following symptoms while suffering from stable angina:
- Shortness of breath
- Profuse sweating
The symptoms usually last for 15 minutes whereas in the case of unstable angina the pain is more severe and continuous.
How is stable angina diagnosed?
Your doctor will run through your medical history and perform some tests such as ECG and angiography. These tests help to diagnose the proper functioning of the heart and if the arteries are blocked. You will also be asked to perform a stress test while which your heart rhythm and breathing will be measured. This helps to find out if physical activity triggers angina. A blood test will also be taken to measure cholesterol and C-reactive protein levels (CRP). High CRP levels can also increase the risk of heart diseases.
How is stable angina treated?
Treatment for stable angina includes changes in lifestyle, medication, and surgery.
Lifestyle changes: Certain lifestyle changes can help prevent future stable angina. These changes include regular exercising, eating a healthy diet consisting of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, nuts, etc. One should also quit smoking. These changes will help in the long run and reduce the risk of diabetes, cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Medication: nitroglycerine is usually prescribed which relieves pain associated with stable angina. You will also have to take other medications to stabilize your blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol levels.
Surgery: Angioplasty is often recommended to treat stable angina. The blocked arteries can be surgically treated using surgery. Angioplasty involves a balloon which is inserted into the arteries and inflated to a required size. A stent is placed to keep the blocked artery open.
The condition often improves with medications. In addition to this, adapting yourself to lifestyle changes will reduce the chances of future stable angina.
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