Doctor's Notes on What Is Angina (Ischemic Chest Pain)?
Angina (also termed angina pectoris) is a term for the temporary chest pain or discomfort that occurs when the heart doesn't get quite enough blood and doesn't function at full capacity. Angina is a symptom itself. The signs and symptoms of angina are temporary pain (lasting a few seconds to a few minutes) or pressure, feeling of fullness, and/or squeezing in the center the chest or in other areas such as the neck, shoulder, jaw, upper arms, or upper back.
Angina is usually caused when the person physically exerts themselves, experiences strong emotions or stress, experiences extreme temperature changes, or even when they eat a meal. Almost anything that increases the demand on the heart can trigger or cause angina.
However, not all chest pain or pressure and other symptoms of angina indicate the person has angina -- if they are first-time occurrence or if symptoms of angina last more than a few minutes, they may be helpful warning signs to seek emergency medical help to avoid or treat a heart attack.
What Is the Treatment for Angina?
In general, nitrates and beta-blockers are the first choice for treatment. Guidelines for treatment of angina include the following:
- Lifestyle changes (for example, smoking cessation, regular exercise)
- Calcium channel blockers
- Low-dose aspirin
- Clot-preventing drugs
- Blood pressure-lowering drugs
Your doctors can establish a treatment protocol designed for you.
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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.