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The well-trained cardiologists at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital will promptly evaluate your symptoms and provide the most appropriate, individualized treatment approach. Our highly skilled heart surgeons can perform complex interventions to treat coronary artery disease, the underlying cause of angina. Additionally, our specialists can guide you towards the most effective lifestyle changes and medication, which are essential in the prevention of plaque buildup in the coronary arteries.
Angina is a symptom of an underlying heart disease. The most common condition associated with angina is coronary artery disease (CAD). Angina is generally described as a squeezing type of pain or discomfort in the chest area. The pain may also radiate into the shoulders, arms, jaw, and neck. Angina occurs when a region of the heart muscle does not receive sufficient amounts of oxygenated blood. This can also lead to a heart attack.
CAD is a heart disease which typically occurs in adults when a wax-like substance known as plaque accumulates on the inner walls of the coronary arteries. The plaque deposits lead to the narrowing and stiffening of the arteries, as well as to the reduction of blood flow to the heart.
Angina may also appear as a symptom of coronary microvascular disease, a heart condition that affects the smallest coronary arteries, but not the blood flow.
Surgery is recommended for a heart disease which cannot be improved by non-invasive treatments, such as lifestyle changes or medication.
The surgical procedures which can alleviate the symptoms of CAD, including angina, are:
Both surgical interventions described above are also referred to as revascularization procedures, as the primary purpose of these methods is to restore proper blood flow to the heart.
The main objective of angina treatment is to relieve pain and discomfort. A doctor may also suggest additional measures, such as lifestyle changes or surgery, in order to prevent or reduce the risk of heart attack by attending to the underlying condition.
There are numerous types of angina. However, the most commonly encountered types are stable, unstable, variant (Prinzmetal’s) and microvascular angina. Each of them entail a set of specific symptoms which require appropriate treatment.
The primary symptoms of angina include chest pain and discomfort, which is often described as squeezing, pressure, or tightness in the middle of the chest. The pain may radiate into the left arm, shoulder, neck, and jaw. Other signs and symptoms which may be associated with angina are:
A doctor may order multiple tests in order to detect the cause of chest pain if unstable angina or another serious underlying heart disease is suspected. The following diagnostic tests can be undergone to properly identify angina:
The risk factors associated with angina are similar to those of coronary heart disease, since angina is often a symptom of the latter condition. Some of the factors which may increase one’s risk of developing angina include:
Coronary heart disease develops when the arteries supplying blood to the heart become narrow. It is often the cause of angina. Therefore, the underlying causes of angina are similar to the causes of coronary heart disease.
Underlying causes: Certain factors which cause damage to the inner lining of the coronary arteries can lead to coronary heart disease. These factors are smoking, high levels of fats and cholesterol in the blood, high blood pressure, and high amounts of blood sugar as a result of insulin resistance. Plaque can start accumulating on the region where arterial damage occurred. Gradually, the plaque deposits travel down the coronary artery or partially block blood flow to the heart muscles, causing angina. The plaque deposits may occasionally rupture and result in blood clots, which can cause a partial or complete blockage in the coronary arteries, as well as angina.
Immediate causes: There are certain factors which can induce or trigger angina, depending on the type of angina.
Stable angina: Physical activity, such as walking uphill or climbing stairs, is a common trigger for stable angina. Other factors include emotional stress, environmental conditions such as exposure to extremely hot or cold weather, contamination with heavy meals, and smoking.
Unstable angina: This type of angina is caused by the blockage of the coronary artery. The breakdown of plaque may result in blood clots which can obstruct the coronary arteries.
Variant angina: Variant angina develops due to a coronary artery spasm, which leads to the narrowing of the artery. Coronary artery spasms may occur as a result of emotional stress, cold exposure, smoking, and the use of cocaine or medicines which tighten or narrow the blood vessels.
Microvascular angina: Microvascular angina occurs as a result of a coronary microvascular disease, which affects the heart’s small coronary arteries. Blood flow may be reduced due to plaque deposits, spasms, or damage to the walls of the artery.
A wide variety of supplements have proven to be effective in reducing the risk of heart disease and its associated symptoms, such as angina. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of some supplements in alleviating angina has not been properly assessed or demonstrated yet. Therefore, it is highly recommended to consult your doctor before taking any nutritional supplements. The list below includes some dietary supplements which might be helpful in improving angina:
Herbal remedies may interact with other medication and supplements and therefore should be taken only under the supervision of a doctor. Some of the remedies which might be efficient in the treatment of angina include:
Homeopathic medicine may be used in conjunction with other medicine in order to reduce the risk of heart disease. However, it is essential to remember that homeopathic remedies can never replace proper treatment in the case of unstable angina. A professional homeopathic physician can assess your condition and recommend the most appropriate remedy for you.
Studies which evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of angina have revealed mixed results. While some studies show that acupuncture can reduce the frequency of angina episodes and the need for nitroglycerine, others have shown no benefit at all. A Chinese study suggests that applying pressure with the fingertips on an acupuncture point located in the sternum region during a stable angina attack can effectively reduce pain. Additionally, another study discovered that acupuncture used in combination with conventional treatment can significantly improve the severity of angina attacks.
The best way to prevent angina is to adopt a healthy lifestyle and, if you already suffer from a heart condition, to seek appropriate treatment for the underlying cause of angina. You can delay the onset of angina and heart disease by making healthy choices, such as:
Treatment of Underlying Conditions: You may delay the onset of angina by taking all the medication your doctor prescribes to you in order to control high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes. Your doctor may also suggest you avoid certain activities known to trigger angina.
Are you experiencing symptoms of angina or sudden chest discomfort? The cardiologists at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital can provide information, a comprehensive evaluation, and adequate treatment.