Angina is a type of pain originating when the heart muscle’s demand for oxygen is greater than the supply of oxygen available. The condition of angina itself is, “not a disease but a symptom of an underlying heart problem, usually coronary heart disease” (AHA). Because of this fact, angina is nothing to be overlooked especially in the emergency setting. The coronary arteries are the vessels that supply the heart muscle itself with its supply of oxygen. When these arteries become partially occluded with plaque, the blood flow that is full of oxygen desired by the heart is disrupted. This is what causes the pain associated with angina that many patients describe as ‘crushing’.
Stable (angina pectoris), unstable angina, variant (Prinzmetal), and microvascular angina are the different types of this condition. Stable angina differs from unstable angina primarily due to its consistency and its easier ability to subside. A person who has stable angina will usually be aware of what triggers it and how to ease the pain. For example, if the crushing pain begins after a walk through a park but then subsides as soon as the person becomes sedentary, this is stable. Medication such as nitroglycerin or aspirin will help alleviate the constricting coronary arteries through vasodilation and platelet aggregation inhibition respectfully.
Unstable angina occurs when the crushing pain in the chest is less predictable and often happens even in the absence of exercise. Medications do not always remedy the pain. Unstable angina, “can happen anytime.
You could be taking a nap or having a cup of coffee” (The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions). Prinzmetal angina is much less occurring and affects about two percent of people who have angina. The intense pain associated with it is caused by spasm of the coronary arteries. People who use cocaine or are subject to very cold environments can experience these spasms. Microvascular angina, while it too is caused by a spasm of the coronary arteries, differs from normal angina due to its correlation with coronary microvascular disease. The pain that is brought on by microvascular angina typically lasts for longer periods of time compared to stable angina.Treatment for angina especially of the unstable nature is crucial in decreasing mortality among these patients populations.
A study conducted by Annals of Medicine examined people with acute coronary syndromes recommended that, “a selective invasive approach (that is, conservative use of angiography) in low-risk patients” proved to decrease levels of mortality (Jolly, 2017). Angina is a serious warning sign to various cardiac conditions that can potentially lead to disability and death.Overall, cardiac health issues especially in the United States presents a majority of the causes of death in adult patient populations. Informing the public about health issues regarding the heart and how one can avoid them is critical in lowering the incidence in cardiac related deaths.
Lifestyle and genetics are the two primary components that can lead to a decline in overall cardiac health. Participants in the healthcare sector have a duty to help make the public aware of how they can reduce the chances of cardiac illness. Lifestyles that involve smoking, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, unhealthy diets, and lack of exercise all are significant factors that contribute to cardiac related disease.
Angina itself can be caused by all of this but mainly through plaque build up in the coronary arteries. A healthy diet and a lifestyle comprised of strong exercise will substantially decrease potential buildup of plaque in those arteries that would otherwise harm the blood flow that is needed by the heart. The human body is an incredible machine and it is not able to run properly without a strong and healthy heart. So put down that cigarette, go for a run, and enjoy living a longer and healthier life.