Fort Bend Heart Center - Sugarland
13020 Dairy Ashford Road Suite 101
Sugar Land, TX 77478
Call Today 281-265-8500
What is angina?
|Angina causes crushing pain in the centre of the chest.|
Angina pectoris is a phrase that comes from Latin and translates as 'tight chest'.
People with angina experience pain in the centre of the chest. The chest can feel constricted and tight, but the pain can also be oppressive, as if something is crushing your chest.
Pain starts in the center of the chest behind the breast bone (sternum) or on the left side of the front of the chest. It can spread out to other parts of your body like your arms and stomach.
Angina is often brought on by:
Once these trigger factors stop, the pain tends to fade away quickly, usually within 10 minutes.
In most cases, the cause of angina is coronary atherosclerosis: the thickening of arteries that supply blood, oxygen and nutrients to the heart.
This happens when fatty deposits, called plaques or atheroma, narrow the arteries over time and reduce blood flow to the heart.
Symptoms may only appear at times when your heart needs more blood supply, such as when you're stressed, exercising or climbing stairs.
As your heart tries to pump faster to meet your body's increased demands, the narrowed arteries struggle to keep up. The heart then receives too little oxygen, which causes pain in the heart that is felt as chest pain.
In severe cases this can also happen when the heart is at rest.
Angina can be aggravated by other illnesses, including:
In rare cases, a severe spasm of a coronary artery can happen when there is relatively little narrowing from fatty deposits. The artery appears to be working normally, but is not. This is known as variant or Prinzmetal angina.
All of us have fatty deposits in our arteries to some degree. Atherosclerosis can start as early as our 20s and increases with age.
But there are risk factors that are known to increase the development of fatty deposits that can cause your arteries to narrow.
Symptoms typically start during physical exertion or emotional stress. They are often worse in cold or windy weather and sometimes after big meals.
Unstable angina is associated with the same symptoms at rest.
In some cases the fatty deposits that restrict blood flow can rupture.
Blood then clots around the rupture, and the clot may be large enough to block the artery and seal off the blood supply. This may cause unstable angina or a heart attack.
Diagnosis is based on:
An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heart and can help diagnosis if done during an episode of pain.
In addition, you may be given an ECG exercise test on a treadmill or exercise bike (a stress test) to determine if the heart muscle is the source of the pain. This test is usually done by a specialist in a hospital.
In many cases, a