Cardiovascular Group and Northside Hospital are pleased to announce the signing of a Practice Services Agreement, signifying a major leap forward in cardiovascular patient care and clinical leadership in the Atlanta region.
Chest pain, also referred to as angina, is a specific type of chest pain caused by poor blood flow to the heart. Angina pain is often described as squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightness or pain in the chest. If you begin to experience angina, it should be checked by a health care provider immediately. Angina may be a recurring pain that goes away after receiving treatment.
Although angina is relatively common, it can still be hard to distinguish from other types of chest pain, such as the discomfort of indigestion. If you have unexplained chest pain, seek medical help right away.
There are multiple forms of angina that can occur depending on what is causing this chest pain.
Stable Angina : Stable angina is the most common form of angina which usually happens during physical activity and goes away with rest or medication. Stable angina pain is predictable and usually similar to previous episodes of chest pain. This pain typically lasts a short time, perhaps five minutes or less.
Unstable Angina : Unstable angina is unpredictable and occurs even while resting. This angina pain can also worsen over time and begin occurring with less physical effort. It’s typically severe and lasts longer than stable angina, around 20 minutes or longer, and the pain does not dissipate even after resting or taking medications.
If the flow of blood to the heart doesn’t improve, the heart muscle becomes starved of oxygen and a heart attack, or myocardial infarction, will occur. Unstable angina requires emergency treatment, so call 911 immediately if your pain is not decreasing.
Variant Angina : Variant angina, also known as prinzmetal angina, is caused by a spasm in the heart’s arteries that temporarily reduces blood flow. The main symptom of this form of angina is severe chest pain that occurs in cycles, usually at rest and during sleep. This type of angina can be relieved with medications.
Refractory Angina : With refractory angina, episodes of chest pain occur frequently even after a combination of medications and lifestyle changes.
The risk of heart disease which leads to angina may be increased due to factors such as age, family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and other health conditions. Your risk of angina may also be increased due to physical inactivity, tobacco use, emotional stress, cold weather, medications, and drug misuse.
Angina is caused when the heart is unable to receive enough blood. The most common cause of reduced blood flow to the heart is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). With CAD, the coronary arteries become narrowed due to a buildup of fatty deposits known as plaque during a process called atherosclerosis. If this plaque ruptures or a blood clot forms, it can block an artery very quickly and lead to heart disease and stroke.
The symptoms of angina can make physical activity uncomfortable and create difficulties when trying to fall asleep, although the most dangerous complication is experiencing a heart attack. Symptoms of a heart attack include , fainting, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, sweating, and pressure or pain in the center of your chest that lasts for longer than a few minutes.
Many of these symptoms are similar to regular symptoms of angina, so it is important to seek emergency medical care when experiencing them.
Angina can be prevented by the same lifestyle changes that are used in treatment, so its best to implement these changes before being diagnosed with angina. These changes that promote heart health include quitting tobacco or simply never starting, eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol consumption, exercising regularly, reducing stress, maintaining a healthy diet, and managing other health conditions that can lead to heart disease.
The most common symptom of angina is chest pain and discomfort that can be described with sensations such as burning, fullness or heaviness, pressure, and squeezing. This pain is not limited to the chest, and may also occur in the arms, neck, shoulders, or back. Other symptoms of angina include dizziness, fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath, and sweating.
Women can experience angina differently than men, which may result in symptoms such as teeth discomfort, abdominal pain, and a stabbing pain instead of dull pressure. Although the severity, duration, and type of angina can vary, new or worsening symptoms may be a sign of unstable angina or a heart attack, so contact your doctor immediately.
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Invasive therapies may also be used to treat an abnormal heart rhythm, such as electrical cardioversion which sends electrical impulses through your chest wall and allows normal heart rhythm to restart, or catheter ablation which disconnects the pathway of the abnormal rhythm. If your doctor determines that electrical devices are the best course of action, you may be given a permanent pacemaker, an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), or biventricular (B-V) pacemakers and defibrillators.
CVG offers a variety of services that can check and treat symptoms of angina. At CVG, we perform stress tests that will observe blood flow and test for Atrial Fibrillation. There are three types of stress tests that we perform:
A treadmill test is a test in which you will walk on a treadmill that gets faster and steeper every 3 minutes. This will stress your heart so that our nurse or doctor can determine your EKG and blood pressure.
An echo test is performed before and after your treadmill test to determine how well your heart pumps blood.
A nuclear stress test is a treadmill test that is prefaced by an injection of medicine that shows the flow of blood to your heart.
We also offer cardiac catheterization, in which a catheter is inserted into the heart in order to take pictures and conduct tests. This procedure allows doctors to gain more information about your condition and suggest treatment options.
If these tests determine a problem, we offer treatment solutions to fix several conditions. Learn more about our services here, or schedule an appointment to talk to our doctors.