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Heart Issues – Understanding Angina Pectoris

May 19th, 2014 | Posted by Aris Eff in Circulatory Emergency

How Angina Pectoris Occurs?

Angina Pectoris, or simply known as Angina, is a heart condition characterized by the cholesterol plaque build-up on the innermost lining of the coronary arteries. These arteries supply blood and oxygen to the heart. Cholesterol plaque build-ups are thick and hard substances caused by too much cholesterol deposited in the arterial wall. In the long run, the plaque build-ups become too thick, resulting in the hardening and narrowing of the artery. When there is too much plaque build-up in the arterial wall it results in inadequate blood supply going to and from the heart.

When a person performs strenuous activities – especially during excitement or exercise – the heart pumps more blood to produce more oxygen. But since the artery is narrowed down, it cannot function properly to meet the increasing blood supply demand. This results to lack of blood supply in the heart, and the first thing that the person will feel is the sudden onset of chest pain among any other symptoms.

Angina Pectoris

Angina Pectoris

What Other Signs And Symptoms Occur With Angina?

Aside from pain, which usually occur at the center of the heart, other symptoms of angina include:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Weakness
  • Numbness of the left neck, left arms, or left shoulder
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tingling sensation in the upper extremities

Important Considerations

Not all chest pains are considered as angina. There are other causes of chest pain including upper respiratory infection, asthma, sore chest muscles, and acid reflux. The best way, therefore, to determine that a chest pain is angina if it results from too much physical exertion, extreme temperatures, strong emotions, stress and other activities that require too much work demand from the heart.

Angina is not a heart attack. But consequent episodes of angina – even in moderate intervals – mean that a person is at an increased risk of suffering from heart attack. This is therefore a good warning sign that you need to seek medical attention in order to prevent the possibility of heart attack.

When the chest pain does not go away after a couple of minutes, it is important to call emergency assistance, because it may indicate a possible heart attack and not angina anymore. Always remember that angina happens and goes away quickly; prolonged chest pains are likely to be from a heart attack.

What To Do When A Patient Suffers From Angina Pectoris?

  • As part of emergency first aid, it is necessary to assist patient to relax and avoid unnecessary movements so that the heart could rest and the pain could go away.
  • Reduce any stress that could further trigger chest pain.
  • Give nitro-glycerin medications or chewable aspirins as prescribed.
  • Finally, and most importantly, seek medical attention so that appropriate intervention could be ruled out. You may need to visit a hospital emergency or cardiologist to get proper medical evaluation.

Where To Learn More?

To learn more about recognizing and managing circulatory emergencies enrol in a first aid and / or CPR course with a credible provider near you. Visit our locations page to find a provider in your area.

Related Video On Angina Pectoris

Sources:

Acute Heart Diseases. (2013). Auxiliary Medical Services. Retrieved online on May 19, 2013 from http://www.ams.gov.hk/eng/firstaid10.htm

Chest Pain Treatment. (2013). Web MD. Retrieved online on May 19, 2013 from http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/angina-pectoris-treatment

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