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Introduction to Angina


Angina is a form of heart disease where the blood flow to the heart is restricted by a blockage in one or more of the arteries that carry blood into the heart.

Usually, the first sign Angina is a pain in the chest, not unlike a squeezing or pressing sensation.

Angina is also referred to as heart disease or coronary heart disease.

Other symptoms or conditions associated with angina or more generally heart disease are a high cholesterol level, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, a family history of heart disease, especially early on in life and menopause in women is also a condition that can suggest or contribute to developing heart disease.

As always, prevention is better than cure so let us look at how you can help prevent developing angina or heart disease. Most actions we can take to prevent heart disease are those that can prevent the onset of some of the symptoms of heart disease mentioned above. Your doctor or health physician can help you with these steps which are controlling high blood pressure or a high cholesterol level. Maintain a healthy diet. A dietitian can help you with this. Developing an effective dietary or meal plan along with moderate regular exercise can help avoid angina.

Once diagnosed with heart disease there are a number of medications that your doctor may or may not prescribe depending on the severity of your condition. Some of the medicines sufferers are prescribed are beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and nitrates. Those at risk of a second heart attack are usually prescribed to take aspirin everyday. This helps thin the blood.

Bypass is a surgical procedure where a vein or artery is sewn in place around the arteries of the heart, to provide an increased blood flow to the heart. This is usually done when most other procedures are not an option, like angioplasty, which is what we will look at next. Some sufferers may need heart surgery to treat their condition, one of which is called angioplasty. A very small balloon is inserted into an artery in the leg or arm. This balloon is then pushed up to the artery around the heart where it is used to push open the blockage.

Now that we have looked at what angina and heart disease is, let us look at how you could can look out for the signs that may lead to a diagnosis of angina or heart disease. Stable angina is quite hard to diagnose as it may present it's self when the person is being active, and it will then go away rather quickly at rest.

Some of the activities that can lead to symptoms of angina are moderate participation of sport or exercise like walking, dancing, light exercise in the gym or even just climbing stairs. Some of the symptoms you may experience while being active are difficulty catching your breath, you may also have pains in your chest, arms and neck. Symptoms like these are indicative of severe angina. If the symptoms do not go away, your doctor may prescribe a medication called nitroglycerin.

So how does this lead to a heart attack?

When your symptoms become irregular, in that they can no longer be described as begin purely stable or severe, this is called unstable angina, and is very strong indication that you are at higher risk of a heart attack. If your symptoms do not go away after resting from activity, or after taking your medication, seek medical help immediately. Get someone to take you to hospital or at least phone your doctor, but it is better to go directly to hospital, to be examined. They may order a set of tests, one being an ECG (an abbreviation of electrocardiogram).

This test will allow them to see if there is any damage to the heart or arteries around it. X-ray's may also be taken to show whether you are getting enough blood to the heart.

Another test they my perform is a stress level test by monitoring you while walking on a treadmill.

A test called a cardiac cauterisation can also my taken. With this test, a thin tube is inserted into a artery and pushed up to the artery close to the heart. The dye injected into the area can also show if blood flow to the heart is restricted.

Our blood pressure chart will show you if your blood pressure is high, low, or normal.

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