Angina

Understanding Angina & What It Means For You

Angina or heart pain occurs when there is insufficient oxygen-rich blood flowing through the heart muscles. It is often characterized by a tight feeling in a person’s chest, which may also extend up to the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back.

It is commonly due to an underlying heart problem such as Coronary Artery Disease (where the arteries supplying blood to the heart narrows and becomes blocked), which is the most common cause of heart disease and the main reason why people have heart attacks.

Classifications of Angina

Stable Angina

With this, you constantly experience symptoms when your heart works harder than usual, such as while you are exercising. Unlike other types of angina, stable angina can be predicted and the pain only lasts a relatively short time. The discomfort can easily be relieved by resting or through angina medication.

Unstable Angina

This is a medical emergency. This type of angina is unpredictable and may occur even when the body is at rest. It is more severe and can last up to 30 minutes or longer. Having an unstable angina might be a sign of an impending heart attack.

Are there other less common types of Angina?

Variant Angina

  • This usually occurs when a person is at rest and often strikes around midnight and early in the morning.
  • It can be very painful and is caused by a spasm in the coronary arteries, which is a result of either exposure to cold weather, medicine intake, smoking, or drug use.

Microvascular Angina

  • This may be a symptom of Coronary Microvascular Disease (MVD), a heart disease that affects the heart’s smallest coronary artery blood vessels.
  • It may be more severe and can last longer than other types of angina. It is also characterized by shortness of breath, sleep problems, fatigue, and lack of energy.

Angina, characterized by heart or chest pain, can be a frightening – if not dangerous – experience. Check in with a Singapore cardiologist as soon as possible when you experience any chest discomfort.

Contact us at 6736 1068 or 9736 1062 (after office hours) for a heart assessment today!

Besides chest pains, are there other symptoms I should look out for?

As the symptoms can be quite common, a cardiologist should be consulted to determine if it is indeed a cardiac condition or an emergency, or something else.

As a general rule, apart from angina, heart diseases also present with symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, fatigue and breathlessness – particularly in women.

Am I at risk of Angina?

  • Family history of heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Old age
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels

If you have a higher risk of heart disease, it is highly recommended to make a trip to the cardiologist’s to lower your risk levels, even before symptoms of Angina show up!

6736 1068 or 9736 1062 (after office hours)!

Most importantly then, how is Angina diagnosed?

In order to differentiate angina from other non-heart-related causes of chest pain, several diagnostic tests may be performed:

Echocardiography

This test uses sound waves to examine the status of the heart. Results of an echocardiography comes in 2 and 3-dimentional images of the heart and it can show if blood is flowing properly in the chambers and valves of the heart.

Stress Test

Angina is easier to diagnose when the heart is working harder. During a stress test, the patient’s blood pressure and ECG readings are examined while he or she exercises by walking on a treadmill or pedaling a stationary bicycle.

Electrocardiogram

This procedure records a person’s heartbeat by using an electrical impulse generated from special cells. Through this, the doctor can look for patterns among the heartbeats to see if there is an abnormality in the blood flow through the vessels.

Chest X-ray

Images of the heart and lungs are taken with the help of this test. Chest x-rays can determine if there are existing structural abnormalities.

Coronary Angiography

This x-ray imaging test examines the inside of the heart’s blood vessels. During this procedure, a type of dye that is visible in an x-ray machine is injected into the heart’s blood vessels.

Is prevention possible?

One way to reduce the risk of angina is to engage in an active lifestyle and keep a healthy diet. Treatment can also involve oral medications. In severe cases, an angioplasty or bypass surgery may be required to unblock the arteries and resume normal blood flow.

Nevertheless, a proper consultation and detailed cardiac assessment with a heart specialist first will help greatly in the prevention and treatment of angina and other heart diseases.

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