You’ve probably heard the term angina pectoris floating around your doctor’s office. Angina pectoris is a relatively common symptom among patients with coronary heart disease. It is a condition that occurs when the heart muscle does not get as much blood as it needs. Approximately 9.8 million Americans experience angina annually, with 500,000 new cases being reported every year.
Angina pectoris is classified into two types: stable angina and unstable angina. Stable angina occurs more often and symptoms are predictable, last a short time (less than five minutes), and can be cured with medication or rest. Unstable angina is often unpredictable, and the pain caused by unstable angina is more severe, often lasting longer than with stable angina.
So how do you know if you are experiencing angina pectoris? Here are some of the causes and possible triggers of angina pectoris.
Risk Factors for Angina Pectoris
There are a variety of ways a person can get angina pectoris. Those who are at a higher risk for developing angina pectoris have one or more of the following risk factors:
- High cholesterol or high blood pressure
- A history of smoking
- Family history
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Family history of heart disease
Additionally, angina pectoris is more common among males than females.
Causes of Angina Pectoris
Angina symptoms can be brought on through a combination of maladies. A person can experience a muscle spasm in the coronary arteries, causing them to narrow, or close off temporarily. In this case, the flood of blood to the heart is blocked by the spasm, causing the angina symptoms.
Other causes of angina symptoms include:
- Blockage of a coronary artery by a blood clot
- Inflammation or infection of a coronary artery
- Poor functioning of the tiny blood vessels of the heart
- Injury to one or more coronary artery
Many times, these symptoms come about during rest, and without a clear cause. A person is more likely to experience these symptoms in the morning.
Triggers of Angina Pectoris
A person can have angina pectoris that they are unaware of, but that can be triggered in certain situations. Those types of activities include:
- Physical exercise
- Emotional stress
- Exposure to cold
- Flying in an airplane, or vacationing in high altitudes (it will decrease the oxygen content of the air you breathe)
- The use of a stimulant i.e. caffeine or smoking
Norvasc Angina Medication Pill
After experiencing angina pectoris, most people recover quickly. Improvement is hastened through medication, lifestyle changes (exercising and eating a balanced diet). In some cases where improvement comes slower than expected, surgery may be necessary. If your doctor determines you have angina pectoris, there are many medications that can help control and prevent the worsening and future symptoms of the condition. Some of the most popular angina medications include: Atenolol, Norvasc and Ranexa.