Intense pain that appears quickly and intensifies over the course of a few minutes in the chest. It is accompanied by sweating, nausea, vomiting and can spread across the whole chest, the left arm, the neck, and the bottom part of the face.
Angina should be differentiated from the pain that can be caused by pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart), from hiatal hernia (stomach hernia) and from musculoskeletal pain. It can also be confused with indigestion.
Who is affected by the condition?
It can affect any age group in adulthood. It is very rare in children. There is a correlation with age (the risk increases as age increases), and there is a slight predominance in males.
Based on clinical observation, electrocardiogram and on determining different blood parameters that show changes in the heart muscle. Diagnosis can be made during an episode of pain, or through a stress test to highlight it, under strict medical control.
The definitive diagnostic test is cardiac catheterisation, which shows blocked areas and often allows the blockage to be cleared with the same catheter.
Electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, nuclear magnetic resonance of the heart, and also cardiac catheterisation which has a diagnostic and therapeutic aim as it can improve blockages in the coronary arteries.
Treatment is aimed at reducing the risk factors, especially tobacco, and improving blood flow in the heart, with the use of various vasodilators.
Health education is essential for those suffering from angina, in order to avoid triggers (quick and intense exercise without warming up) and risk factors (tobacco and alteration of fat content in the blood).
There are numerous coronary vasodilators and various pharmacological families. One thing they all have in common is that they improve coronary blood flow. Controlling arterial hypertension is essential to reduce cardiac effort and overloading of the surrounding vessels.
Cardiac catheterisation consists of inserting a catheter via the arm or leg that reaches the heart and uses contrast to detect coronary obstruction. It thus allows the blockage to be cleared using a dilator or by inserting a stent (an artificial object that allows the flow of blood along the coronary artery to remain open).
Cardiac surgery allows coronary reconstruction with the heart in hand, using artificial arteries or the patient's own vein, which can be taken out of other parts of the body, such as the legs. The advantage is that the reconstruction is better and the disadvantage is that it entails open surgery with the use of extracorporeal circulation.
Tobacco is a big risk factor for developing angina. It should be completed avoided. Controlling fats in the blood and moderate, constant physical exercise are very important.
It is also important to have a healthy diet and regular light or moderate exercise continued over time.
Another important aspect for those who suffer from angina is information relating to how to lead a normal life, over many years, with close monitoring of medication and the relevant tests. Many people have a long life with very few issues after having had angina, as long as the condition is closely controlled.
Cardiology, Cardiac surgery, Haemodynamics and cardiac catheterisation, Intensive care.
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