How To Deal With Angina Chest Pain
Learning how to deal with angina chest pain requires knowing what it is, what causes it and how it can be treated. Angina is a common symptom of coronary artery disease, characterized by a narrowing of the arteries. Most angina sufferers live a normal life but many require medication for the rest of their lives if the angina is severe or a result of chronic heart disease.
There are three types of angina:
- Stable angina This type of angina has a predictable pattern of symptoms that occur during exercise or rest. Pain or discomfort associated with stable angina can be relieved with rest or treated with nitroglycerin. People with this type of angina can pretty much live with it; however, the condition may progress to unstable angina over time.
- Unstable angina Stable angina symptoms that suddenly become unpredictable, occurs more frequently and/or is unresponsive to treatment are a sign of unstable angina. Pain associated with unstable angina is worse and more prolonged than that of stable angina. People with unstable angina are at a higher risk for heart attack, cardiac arrest and severe cardiac arrhythmia. Unstable angina is a condition that requires immediate medical attention and evaluation.
- Variant angina Variant angina occurs mostly at night during rest. This type of angina is also known as Prinzmetal’s angina and is most common in people who have severe coronary atherosclerosis in at least one major heart vessel.
Dealing with angina involves lifestyle change, medication and in some cases surgery. Lifestyle changes, particularly in regards to heart health, is a no-brainer.
- Eat a healthy diet. A low-fat, low-sodium diet can lower blood pressure and cholesterol and help you achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
- Get at least twenty to 30 minutes of exercise every day. Angina patients should began an exercise program under a doctor’s supervision. Patients with stable angina can be monitored to see what activities trigger an angina attack.
- Quit smoking. If you smoke, seriously consider quitting. The long-term health benefits trump the temporary nicotine fix.
- Reduce stress. Find ways to manage and reduce stress that does not involve alcohol, caffeine or tobacco--or eating a quart of ice cream. Moderate exercise, such as a twenty-minute walk, is a great stress-reliever.
- Seek medical attention. Call your doctor or go to the emergency room if your angina symptoms worsen or the patterns of occurrence suddenly change and medication or rest fail to alleviate them.
Nitroglycerin is most often used in the treatment of both stable and unstable angina. Unstable angina may also require the use of beta-blockers and calcium antagonists. If the condition continues to worsen, a cardiac catheterization and subsequent angioplasty (if required) may be performed.