Angina is the painful sensation you feel in your chest that occurs when there is reduced blood flow to the heart. It is one of the first tell-tale signs of coronary heart disease.
Some people may be at higher risk of developing angina and coronary heart disease. Risk factors include:
- Existing medical conditions – diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol
- Cigarette smoking, tobacco use
- Family history of heart disease
- Sedentary lifestyle and obesity
- Older age
Angina can often be accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in the shoulder, neck, jaw, and arms
- Chest pain often described as heaviness, squeezing, or burning pain
If you experience any of these symptoms, you need to see a doctor immediately so it can be determined whether you should be treated for stable angina or unstable angina (a possible heart attack).
Stable angina develops when your heart is working harder than usual such as when you climb stairs, do high-intensity exercises, or hike up a hill. This type of angina can usually be predicted, lasts only for a short while (about 5 minutes), and typically disappears once you’re rested, or once you have taken angina medication.
Unstable angina, on the other hand, is a case of a medical emergency. This can occur even at rest, can be completely unexpected, and accompanied with more severe pain almost lasting 30 minutes or longer. It can be a signal of a heart attack. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately.
Angina can be prevented or improved by making a few lifestyle changes such as:
- Regular exercise with your doctor’s guidance. Some people may need to restrict the duration and intensity of their workout sessions if they have pre-existing heart conditions.
- Quit smoking
- Eat healthily and maintain a healthy weight
- Limit alcohol consumption to one drink a day or less
- Reduce your stress levels
Read the full article by Mayo Clinic here for more information on how to deal with angina.