What is Angina?

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What is Angina?
Angina is short for “Angina Pectoris”, a medical condition that relates to pain and/or tightening in the chest. It is not a disease in itself but rather a known symptom of an underlying heart condition. When people feel a squeezing pain or discomfort in the chest, this is usually due to inadequate supply of oxygen to the heart. It usually points to some disease to the coronary arteries when oxygen supply to the heart is lacking or inadequate.

A disease to the coronary arteries of the heart is considered the most common form of heart disease. Usually what happens is that the arteries undergo thickening and/or narrowing which impedes blood flow. What causes the narrowing in these arteries is the build-up of cholesterol in the blood vessel. Over time, when cholesterol and other substances accumulate on the arterial walls, thickening will result and thus limiting the space for blood to pass through. When this happens, the heart will have less supply of oxygen from the blood and so will cause pain and discomfort in the chest area.

The pain on the chest area associated with angina may be described by patients as tightening or squeezing. It is also common for the pain to radiate to the arms, back, neck and jaw areas. But aside from pain, some people may also have sweating, nausea, difficulty in breathing, malaise, and cramping.

Some patients are prescribed with a variety of medications to soothe the symptoms of angina. Nitroglycerin is given to help the heart minimize its oxygen requirements. Others are also given beta blockers like acebutolol, bisoprolol, and propanolol among others. In severe cases, some patients are required to undergo surgery like angioplasty. This type of surgery involves the repair of the affected blood vessels. Another surgical procedure is called coronary artery bypass surgery in which another arterial blood pathway is created to “bypass” the coronary arteries in the transport of blood.

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