Angina Pectoris

Angina Pectoris is a condition that is caused by a problem in the heart. Most people will experience a pressure like episode in their chest that may feel like a band being tightened around the top of the chest. This is often brought on by physical exertion or stress and is often relieved by rest or a nitrate spray. The most common causes of this condition are a narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the heart. Cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and/or a family history of a similar event can cause this. A trace of the heart may show evidence of increased strain on the heart during one of these events or may even show evidence of a previous heart attack. The diagnosis of this condition can be made by the story you tell the doctor as well as by a heart trace with you on a treadmill, known as a stress test. For a certain diagnosis one must undergo a heart catheter study known as a coronary angiography.

It is important to note that not all chest pain of this type is from angina pectoris. Some of the other conditions that may cause similar pain include other heart abnormalities such as a heart attack, pain around the ribs called costochondritis, nerve pain caused by a virus such as shingles, a stomach ulcer, reflux, or a chest infection.

If the pain is angina pectoris then there are a number of treatments that can be considered. The first is altering your lifestyle factors. Consider this a lucky break and that more episodes such as this may be very serious and can relate in heart attack and even death. You can help yourself by altering your diet, stopping smoking and exercising regularly. When you have an episode you must have some nitrate spray on you to spray under your tongue. This opens up the blood vessels and takes the pain away. You may be placed on lifelong medications and it is very important that you take these everyday even when you feel well. Some people may require surgery and this can be done through the blood vessels and may require the insertion of a little metal pipe called a stent to keep the blood vessel open. If stenting is not possible then you may require open-heart surgery and have the blood vessels on your heart bypassed, a procedure known as a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG).

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