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 Dr. George Jacob
Heart Infocenter

Holistic-online.com

Angina Pectoris or Angina

Identifying Angina Pectoris or Angina

Angina pectoris is a precursor to a heart attack. Usually, what happens is this: During physical exertion, during stress or an emotionally charged situation, in cold weather or after a big meal, the heart beats faster. Heart requires more oxygenated blood flow to the heart muscle to maintain the beating. But if the channels by which the blood and oxygen flow to the heart are narrowed, not enough nutrients get to the heart muscle tissue. It suffers oxygen deficiency, and the heart tells you about this with a pain called angina pectoris.

The pain is quite distinct. It is described as: "a heavy, strangulating, suffocating experience-far more intense than anything like indigestion, chest wall injuries, pleurisy or spasms of the esophagus that you are familiar with. The pain may seem to start under the breastbone, on the left side of the chest, and sometimes radiates out to other places: throat, neck, jaw, left shoulder and arm and, occasionally, on to the right side.

Angina is an intense, scary episode. But with rest and calm (or by placing nitroglycerin or another kind of nitrate under the tongue), angina attacks usually go away in about 15 minutes or so. If they last longer than that, go to the hospital and have a thorough check up. Long-lasting angina attacks may be the prelude to heart attacks.

If you have never been diagnosed with heart disease but develop any of the following symptoms, consider the possibility that you have angina. Make an appointment with your doctor, and arrange for a cardiac screening as soon as possible.
  • Chest pain that comes with physical exertion and eases with rest.

  • Chest pain that is brought on by emotional stress.

  • New or unusual shortness of breath-if you suddenly find you're winded after climbing a flight of stairs when you used to be able to take the same flight of stairs in stride, for example.

  • Indigestion, particularly if indigestion is unusual for you, if it does not respond to antacids, or if you do not associate its occurrence with eating.

The statistics show that half of those with angina pectoris suffer sudden deaths, a third have heart attacks, and most victims are older men. And an estimated 350,000 new cases of angina occur each year.

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