Angina pectoris or chest tightness is a heart disease that belongs to the group of coronary heart diseases (CHD). The symptoms often resemble those of a heart attack . Angina pectoris should be examined immediately by a doctor if it is suspected. Calling the emergency doctor or urgent medical help is therefore more than advisable.
What is angina?
According to BITTRANSLATORS.COM, sharp or tearing heart pains are described by most patients during a heart attack . The pain can radiate to the arms, neck, shoulders, upper abdomen and back. Accompanying symptoms are usually: shortness of breath , nausea and a feeling of fear (” fear of death”).
Angina pectoris is a serious disease that is one of the coronary heart diseases .
This is also translated as “chest tightness” and it becomes clear what it is. Symptoms that occur in the context of angina pectoris are referred to as “pectanginal complaints”.
In order to distinguish angina pectoris from an even more serious heart attack , one has to consider the time in which the symptoms occur, because the unpleasant symptoms of angina pectoris usually only occur for a short time, but require rapid medical clarification in any case.
The causes of angina pectoris are narrowed coronary arteries and the resulting circulatory disorders of the vessels and, as a consequence, an insufficient supply of the heart muscle with oxygen.
This problem occurs more frequently under physical and mental stress and is almost always a side effect of coronary heart disease .
However, since not every case of coronary heart disease is accompanied by these symptoms, it is quite insidious because it often goes undetected for a long time and the earlier the causes are eliminated, the better the chances of recovery.
Other causes can be: high blood pressure , diabetes , arteriosclerosis , stress and smoking .
Symptoms, ailments & signs
The symptoms of angina pectoris can be very different. Often the most commonly described stabbing chest pain does not occur at all. In many cases, the patients only complain of discomfort , which is localized behind the sternum. Symptoms such as pressure, dull pain, burning, or heaviness are described here.
Often occur shortness of breath and a feeling of tightness in the chest (see tightness in the chest ) on. The pain often radiates to the back, neck, shoulders or stomach. Sometimes the pain can even affect the area around the jaw. It is even possible that the origin of the pain is no longer realized if it dominates the area of the body that is radiated.
When the jaw is affected, the only symptom that can often be felt is very severe toothache . Here the patient will often see a dentist instead of a cardiologist. Angina pectoris can be stable or unstable. In the stable form, the complaints always occur in certain stressful situations with the same intensity and subside when you are at rest.
Unstable angina pectoris occurs even with low stress, gets worse with every attack and lasts longer and longer. In addition, the pain often does not subside even when you are resting and the drug treatment with nitroglycerin often does not work. Furthermore, the risk of a heart attack is significantly increased in the case of unstable angina pectoris.
If angina pectoris is suspected, a doctor should be called immediately to avoid permanent damage. When medical treatment then begins, the coronary vessels can be treated sustainably using modern medical therapy methods, so that the risk of a heart attack or other heart diseases can be reduced.
Nevertheless, especially with angina pectoris, the patient should become active himself. That means absolutely renouncing smoking, alcohol and fatty foods. In addition, under medical guidance, the person affected should begin to move more or even to do sports. Stress should also be avoided. If the patient is also overweight , this must be treated with additional diet measures.
If coronary heart disease, which includes angina pectoris, is not treated, there is a high risk of dying from a heart attack.
If complications arise with angina pectoris, these should be clarified by a doctor. As soon as a tightness or a feeling of oppression becomes noticeable in the chest, breathing difficulties or cardiac rhythm disturbances occur even with low stress, there is an acute danger to life. The sudden lack of oxygen can no longer guarantee the blood flow to the heart muscle and there is a risk of a heart attack.
At times, the complications also manifest themselves as chest pain, numbness in the arms, dizziness and sweating. It is advisable to cure any form of angina well. Once the symptoms have been overcome, the patient belongs to a risk group and should correct their lifestyle as part of therapy.
If the symptom is delayed and the signs of an emerging problem are ignored, the clinical picture can change into a chronic permanent condition. If the heart muscle is weakened by angina pectoris, this affects the general quality of life and life expectancy. Furthermore, the chances of recovery are reduced.
As a result, therapy-resistant angina pectoris or even unstable agina pectoris can develop, which suddenly trigger circulatory problems even during the rest phase. Sick patients must therefore pay more attention to their body’s warnings so that extreme cases do not occur. In particular, mid-life people who are exposed to high levels of stress, as well as elderly patients, can unexpectedly succumb to a heart attack.
When should you go to the doctor?
In the event of attack-like chest pain, an emergency doctor must always be notified in the first instance . Affected people must be examined for the cause of the seizure. Coronary sclerosis, heart defects, cardiac arrhythmias and other coronal causes must be identified and treated if necessary. The surrounding vessels can also play a role. In addition, angina pectoris can indicate or be a symptom of a heart attack.
Patients with stable angina pectoris experience similar attacks of chest tightness with constant pain in different situations. You can take care of yourself thanks to prescribed medication. If this does not help, call an emergency doctor.
Two other factors also determine whether an emergency doctor needs to be called. On the one hand, this should be called if the seizure differs from previously experienced seizures. It may be a heart attack. A doctor should always be consulted if the seizures increase – that is, occur even with less stress than usual.
Unstable angina pectoris is a case for the doctor for every single deterioration that the person concerned finds. Regular examinations of the heart and the surrounding blood vessels are essential for all people who experience these seizures.
Treatment & Therapy
A heart attack is often caused by a narrowing of the coronary arteries , which is known as arteriosclerosis . If such a constriction is blocked by a blood clot , all subsequent heart muscle areas are no longer supplied with blood and oxygen. The heart muscle then dies within a few hours. Click to enlarge.
Anyone who experiences penctanginal complaints should seek medical treatment immediately in order to recognize and treat possible angina pectoris in good time, because this is where the time factor counts. It is best to call the emergency services immediately. He will probably come with the emergency doctor, as the disease can be life-threatening.
In any case, you should raise your upper body and not take any more steps. It can happen that you vomit or even a circulatory collapse occurs. The first steps taken by the rescue service will consist of supplying high-dose oxygen through a nasal tube, checking the vital functions, i.e. breathing, pulse and blood pressure, and establishing one or more venous accesses (infusion needles) so that drugs such as painkillers etc. can be administered quickly.
If the angina pectoris symptoms persist until the ambulance service arrives, it is probably a heart attack which , if left untreated, can lead to death. That is the reason why one should take this tightness in the chest very seriously and call the emergency services once more than once too little.
Only on the basis of the created and evaluated EKG can one possibly determine whether it is “only” an angina pectoris or a heart attack. Even with an unremarkable EKG, a heart attack can be present, so people with heart problems of any kind should always be treated by a doctor so that they can be helped quickly.
Outlook & forecast
In the worst case, angina pectoris can lead to sudden cardiac death. This usually occurs without any particular symptoms and can thus lead to the death of the patient. Those affected suffer from severe chest pain and often from shortness of breath. The shortness of breath can also lead to a panic attack , which is associated with a sweat.
Furthermore, there is a strong exhaustion and an oppressive feeling in the chest. Not infrequently, the patients also suffer from fear of death and severe abdominal pain. The patient’s resilience is reduced and difficulties arise in everyday life.
Furthermore, paralysis or other sensory disorders can occur, which significantly reduce the quality of life. With this disease, there is no self-healing, so that the person affected is dependent on treatment by a doctor in any case.
The treatment itself takes place with the help of medication or surgery. In the event of a heart attack, treatment by an emergency doctor is necessary so that the patient does not die. Life expectancy may be limited by angina pectoris.
The best prevention against angina pectoris is, of course, if you do not allow the cause to come to light in the first place and if you are regularly examined in detail by your doctor. This is especially true if you are a so-called risk patient. This includes people who are overweight , have high blood pressure and high blood lipids; People who have a family history of heart disease and of course people who have had heart problems before.
Even if there are only slight complaints, you should immediately go to a specialist (cardiologist) or at least to your family doctor, who can then decide whether it is necessary to consult a specialist. Angina pectoris does not only affect people who are apparently predestined for it, i.e. are overweight or have high blood lipid levels. People who are under a lot of physical or psychological stress also belong to the group of people at risk.
It is not uncommon to see the image of the stressed manager trying to loosen his tie knot and gasping for air. Emotional stress can also lead to the symptoms of angina pectoris. Basic illnesses have to be treated and those who are constantly under pressure to perform, regardless of the form, have to shift down a gear and, for the sake of their health, step a little slower, because you only have one heart and this heart is vital.
Once chest tightness is detected, there is no immunity to recurrence. Patients can prevent the likelihood of recurring symptoms mainly through self-designed follow-up care. Preventive measures include eating a healthy diet, exercising daily, and avoiding addictive substances such as alcohol and cigarettes. Avoiding stress has also been shown to have a positive effect. Obese patients urgently need to reduce their weight.
If the agina pectoris occurs again, patients should definitely consult a doctor. It threatens life in a pronounced form. The electrocardiogram is an important examination for determining a disease. The doctor measures the cardiac currents and uses this to determine the susceptibility to chest tightness.
Even patients who have not yet complained about the typical symptoms should regularly take part in preventive measures from their health insurance company. There is an entitlement to this from the age of 35. Risk factors are diagnosed as part of the health check-up. The doctor can provide meaningful information by measuring blood pressure and analyzing blood.
Patients usually start interval therapy after a single illness. It is designed to stop complications and progression. It is important to stop high blood pressure and lipid metabolism disorders. Medicines are regularly used to optimize the work of the heart.
You can do that yourself
For people who suffer from angina pectoris – or other heart diseases – there are numerous contact points that can help them cope with the disease.
In so-called heart groups, the patients can exchange ideas and do sports together. Movement is essential in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. In addition, exchanging ideas with other patients can reduce the fear of a heart attack. If this is not enough, therapy with a specialist or psychologist can be considered. Also, relaxation techniques can help against fear.
Specialists and psychologists have observed that patients who regularly practice techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation , autogenic training or yoga have fewer attacks of angina pectoris. For patients who are skeptical about relaxation techniques, the so-called biofeedback is recommended as an entry-level technique. Here the person concerned imagines a picture (for example a pleasant landscape or situation) and concentrates entirely on it.
In addition to regular exercise and relaxation , other factors play a role. Recommended are: low-fat, healthy diet , weight normalization in the case of obesity and renouncing nicotine . Regular medical checks can determine risk factors for angina pectoris (for example arteriosclerosis). Patients with statutory health insurance can be examined free of charge every two years from the age of 35. This is particularly recommended for diabetics and smokers as well as patients with blood pressure problems.
It is important to remain calm during a seizure. The patient should be in an upright position and try to breathe calmly. Usually the pain goes away within a few minutes. Those affected carry a nitro spray or nitro capsules with them, which eliminate the symptoms. If this is not the case and the complaints last longer than fifteen minutes, the emergency services must be alerted.