Angina, a feeling of chest pain or pressure caused by reduced blood flow, is often a sign that you’re in danger of having a heart attack. At his practice offices in Los Angeles and Torrance, California, board-certified cardiologist Ibrahim Helmy, MD, FACC, FACP, diagnoses angina and treats chest discomfort while addressing the heart conditions that cause it. To regain control over your heart health, call or click today to schedule an appointment.
Angina refers to symptoms that result from your heart not getting enough blood, depriving it of the oxygen it needs. It results when the coronary arteries, which supply your heart with blood, have narrowed over time from a buildup of plaque, a sticky substance largely made up of fat, cholesterol, and calcium. The process of plaque building up in your arteries is known as atherosclerosis, or coronary artery disease.
You may have seen “angina” used interchangeably with “chest pain,” but this is somewhat misleading. Angina isn’t the only cause of chest pain. Also, though angina can cause burning or aching sensations in your chest, you may also experience it as pressure, a squeezing sensation, or a feeling of fullness.
Angina can be stable or unstable.
When you have stable angina, you consistently experience symptoms when your heart is working hard, such as while you’re exercising or after you eat a large, fatty meal. Stable angina symptoms are temporary, usually lasting no longer than fifteen minutes, and your symptoms are predictable based on your level of activity. Stable angina isn’t as serious or urgent as unstable angina, and the symptoms usually improve with rest or medication, but it does mean your heart’s not getting enough oxygen.
Unstable angina causes symptoms unpredictably and can affect you even when you’re at rest. The pain and discomfort are more severe than in stable angina and the symptoms last longer. Unstable angina means you’re in danger of having a heart attack in the near future, and you should treat it as a medical emergency.
Angina may be alarming, but it’s highly treatable as long as you seek medical attention when you experience chest pain or discomfort.
Treatment for angina depends on the seriousness of the condition and focuses on symptom relief while also preventing the blockage in your arteries from getting worse. Dr. Helmy may recommend:
Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, quitting smoking, and losing weight lower your heart disease risk and can reduce or prevent angina symptoms.
Nitrates, which relieve chest pain by relaxing your arteries so blood can flow more easily, are the most commonly prescribed medications for angina. Aspirin can also improve blood flow and lower your risk of a heart attack. Depending on your risk factors, Dr. Helmy may also prescribe medication for high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Angioplasty is a procedure that opens up clogged arteries. Though it’s most commonly used in emergencies to treat heart attacks or unstable angina, angioplasty can also provide symptom relief for stable angina.
If you have chest pain or discomfort, don’t ignore it. Make an appointment with Dr. Helmy in one of his southern California offices by calling or using the online booking tool today.