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  CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASES AND CONDITIONS
  ANGINA (CHEST PAIN)
What is Angina
Causes of Angina
Symptoms of Angina
Risks factors for Angina
Diagnosis of Angina
Prevention and Control of Angina
What is Angina
Angina is a discomfort in the chest usually brought on by exertion (exercise, stress). An imbalance in the oxygen required vs. the oxygen supplied triggers these symptoms. The pain is reversible once blood flow and oxygen delivery are returned in the appropriate balance to the heart.

Causes of Angina.
Three major types of angina are recognised:
  • Stable Angina: Symptoms occur during physical exertion, emotional distress, or meals.
  • Unstable Angina: Is more severe, brought on by minimal exertion, and occurs at rest as well as with minimal exertion.
  • Vasospastic Angina: results from vasospasm of a coronary artery and occurs most commonly at rest. Smoking, cocaine use and use of other stimulant drugs may increase risk.

Except for vasospastic angina, angina is caused by coronary artery disease (CAD), in which the blood supply to the heart is compromised due to narrowing caused by atherosclerosis.



Symptoms of Angina
Pain or pressure is usually felt in the chest. This pain may present as heaviness, squeezing, burning, or tightness accompanied by weakness, sweating and anxiety. Anginal pain may radiate up the neck or down the left arm and may be a minor discomfort or may be debilitating. Symptoms usually last from 2 – 10 minutes.

Risks factors for Angina
Because angina is a result of the progression of atherosclerotic disease and CAD, the risk factors associated with these conditions are very similar. Hypertension, smoking, hypercholesterolaemia, sedentary lifestyle, and obesity are all modifiable risk factors that may affect the severity of CAD and subsequent angina. Vasospastic angina can precede a heart attack, severe cardiac rhythm disturbances, and sudden death.

Diagnosis of Angina
Once a patient presents with symptoms, which suggest angina and coronary artery disease, a variety of diagnostic tests can help identify CAD. Diagnosis of angina depends largely on the patient’s history .In addition an electrocardiogram (ECG) can detect changes in oxygen to the heart. Diagnosis of vasospastic angina is difficult, and for this reason the true incidence is unknown.



Prevention and Control of Angina
Symptoms of angina are often relieved by relaxation, rest, and medications that dilate coronary arteries such as nitroglycerine. Modifiable risks such as hypertension, smoking, hypercholesterolaemia, sedentary lifestyle and obesity should be addressed.

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