Table of contents:
- Symptoms of angina
- How the diagnosis is made
- Causes of angina
- Main types of angina
- How the treatment is done
Angina, also known as angina pectoris, corresponds to the feeling of heaviness, pain or tightness in the chest that occurs when there is a decrease in blood flow in the arteries that carry oxygen to the heart, this situation being known as cardiac ischemia.
Most of the time, cardiac ischemia is a consequence of atherosclerosis, which is characterized by the accumulation of fatty plaques in the coronary arteries, being more frequent in people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or decompensated diabetes. Know the main causes of atherosclerosis.
Cardiac ischemia and, consequently, angina, are more common in people over 50 years old and must be treated quickly, as they are a great risk for the development of infarction, cardiac arrest and other cardiovascular diseases, such as arrhythmia, heart failure or stroke, for example.
Symptoms of angina
Symptoms of angina are related to decreased blood flow to the heart due to narrowing of the arteries, and the intensity of symptoms may vary according to the type of angina. Thus, the main symptoms of angina are:
- Burning sensation, tightness and/or pain in the chest, which can last up to 20 minutes and may radiate to the shoulder, arm or neck;
- Tingling in the arm, shoulders or wrists;
- Cold sweat;
- Shortness of breath.
Angina symptoms can be triggered after exertion or exposure to cold, however, in some cases, they can also happen during rest. Thus, it is important that the cardiologist is consulted so that an evaluation of the symptoms can be carried out and the diagnosis of angina can be made, and the most appropriate treatment can be initiated.
How the diagnosis is made
At the time of the crisis, the diagnosis of angina is made by the cardiologist by evaluating the signs and symptoms presented by the person, in addition to evaluating the results of some tests, such as electrocardiogram, chest X-ray and enzyme dosage heart rate in the blood. In addition to these, other tests may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis, such as stress testing, myocardial scintigraphy, echocardiography and cardiac catheterization.
Cardiac catheterization is a very important test because, in addition to more accurately quantifying the obstruction of blood vessels and assessing the presence of changes in blood flow, it is capable of treating the cause of the obstruction, through angioplasty, with implantation of a stent or use of a balloon, to open the artery. Find out what it is for and what are the risks of cardiac catheterization.
Causes of angina
The main cause of angina is atherosclerosis, which is a condition characterized by the deposition of fatty plaques in the blood arteries, which directly interferes with the blood flow to the heart, so that this organ receives less nutrients and oxygen, resulting in angina.Learn more about atherosclerosis.
Some factors can increase the risk of atherosclerosis and, consequently, of angina, such as older age, diabetes, unhe althy and high-fat diet, physical inactivity, high blood pressure and family history.
Furthermore, angina symptoms can be worsened after exertion, emotional changes, exposure to lower temperatures and a full stomach.
Main types of angina
Angina can be classified into some main types according to their characteristics, that is, symptoms and triggering factors. The main types of angina are:
1. Stable angina
It is caused by a transient ischemia, ie it arises when the person makes some effort or suffers some emotional stress, for example, with a partial and momentary decrease in blood flow. This type of angina is more common in people who already have some type of partial coronary atherosclerosis, which can get worse and even lead to a heart attack.
2. Unstable angina
It is a more serious situation than stable angina, as it is caused by a greater interruption of oxygenation to the heart, due to a rupture and inflammation of the atherosclerosis plaque, which causes more intense and constant symptoms, being considered a form of pre-infarction. Learn more about unstable angina.
3. Prinzmetal's angina or variant
This type of angina has no clear cause and happens due to a coronary spasm, in which there is interruption of blood flow even if the person does not have fat accumulation in the artery or other types of narrowing.
How the treatment is done
Treatment for angina aims to relieve symptoms and fight the cause, and may vary according to the type of angina the person has, and the use of some remedies may be recommended, such as:
- Nitrate-type drugs to improve blood flow, such as Isordil, beta-blockers, such as Metoprolol, or calcium channel blockers, such as Verapamil and Morphine, when symptoms are very intense;
- Drugs to reduce clot formation, with the use of antiplatelet agents, such as ASA and Clopidogrel or Prasugrel and Ticlopidine, and anticoagulants, such as Heparin.
- Antihypertensives ACE inhibitors, such as Captopril, or lipid-lowering agents for cholesterol control, such as Atorvastatin.
In addition, it is essential that the person rests and adopts he althy habits to avoid new attacks of angina. s alt, fat and sugar and practice physical activity on a regular basis.
Is Angina Curable?
Angina can be cured in people who are able to treat cardiac ischemia as recommended by the cardiologist. Many cases are well controlled with the use of medications prescribed by the cardiologist, while others are more serious, requiring catheterization or even heart revascularization surgery.