The heart is a muscle. The coronary arteries send blood to the heart. The blood carries oxygen and nutrients with it, which keeps the heart pumping. The heart cannot function properly if it does not get sufficient blood and oxygen. If the heart is not performing at its best and you have a sudden emotional stress, overexert yourself, or end up in extreme temperature you will get a sudden sharp pain in your chest. This is called angina.
Types of Angina
There are three main types of angina: stable, unstable, and variant. Variant angina is extremely rare. Each type of angina has different symptoms and causes. However, all have the same symptom of chest pain as if a heavy weight has been placed on the chest. This pressure can sometimes go into the arms, neck, jaw, shoulder or back. The most common type of angina is a stable angina. This type develops when you overexert yourself, such as when you are climbing a flight of stairs. The pain usually only lasts for about five minutes then goes away, or it can go away with medication. Emotional or mental stress can also trigger a stable angina.
An unstable angina is less common and more serious. The pain is much worse, and the symptoms are unpredictable. The attacks also last longer, up to around thirty minutes. These can occur even if you are resting, and do not require any physical, mental or emotional stress to trigger them. They usually do not go away quickly or with medication. If you are having these types of angina you need to see your doctor immediately, as it may be a precursor to more serious coronary heart disease.
For both stable and unstable angina the cause is typically the heart not being able to keep up with exertion, especially if the coronary arteries are narrowed. Intense physical exertion requires more blood to be pumped into the heart, and any delay in that blood supply will cause severe pain. Another cause of angina is hardening of the arteries, which is often caused by fats and cholesterol building up on the walls of the arteries. Infection or inflammation of the heart artery can also cause a disruption in blood flow to the heart, causing angina. Additionally, angina attacks are caused by any injury to the coronary arteries. Variant angina is caused by random spasms of the heart muscle which causes the coronary arteries to narrow or close off.
Getting Rid of Angina
To get rid of angina you have to make lifestyle changes, and you may also have to take medications. Some of the lifestyle changes you will need to make are to eat healthier and exercise. This will improve the health of the coronary arteries, which will in turn lessen your angina. You should also watch your weight in general, and quit smoking. You should also pace yourself and avoid physical, emotional and mental stress. You can also treat other conditions that worsen angina, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Finally, you can take anti-angina medications prescribed by your doctor. You should take these as prescribed, no more and no less.