An Introduction to Angina
Angina is a medical term for chest pain or discomfort that arises due to an insufficient supply of oxygen-rich blood, known as ischemia, to the heart muscle. The blood supply falls below the normal level when coronary arteries get clogged with fat deposits called plaque. Angina, also known as 'angina pectoris,' is a Latin word that means squeezing of the chest.

Angina is of two types, stable angina and unstable angina. Stable angina is of recurring nature. The condition under which the chest pain arises is easily predictable. For example, chest pain occurs every time after exercise or climbing up the stairs. This is a common type of angina that lasts for a maximum of five minutes.

Unstable angina is erratic and more severe. The pains are unpredictable; they are for a longer time and more intense. It is the first step towards heart attack. Therefore, if such angina symptoms are noticed, one should opt for immediate hospitalization.

The nature of the chest pain can help in easy identification of angina symptoms. The pain is felt as pressure, squeezing, aching, or tightening across the chest. The pain spreads to the neck, jaw, and back. It can also be associated with sweating, indigestion, and heartburn.

However, angina symptoms are quite different in women. They may not experience chest pain at all. They generally feel a hot or burning sensation or sensitivity to touch. Sometimes doctors are unable to identify these symptoms as cardio symptoms, and they falsely diagnose them as muscular pain, gastrointestinal order, or an effect of emotional stress.

A variety of medicines are available for the treatment of angina. They are mainly aspirin, nitrates such as nitroglycerin, beta-blockers, and calcium channel blockers (CCBs).

Aspirin is taken to prevent the formation of clots in the walls of an artery or vein. The consumption of nitrates is an oral way of immediately removing the blockages thereby reliving the pain and pressure on the heart. We advise patients to always keep nitrate pills with them and consume during a sudden attack of angina.

Beta-blockers slow down the pace of the working of the heart. This, in turn, relaxes the overworked heart and reduces the need for blood. CCBs are muscle relaxants that are consumed to relax arteries.

In cases where angina is due to severe blocking of the arteries, we recommend surgery to restore normal blood flow to the heart muscle.

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