Angina occurs when the heart is not able to get enough oxygenated blood because of a clog or blockage in one of the arteries. Angina causes pain and discomfort in the chest region and is common in individuals with coronary heart disease. Three types of angina are stable angina, unstable angina and variant angina. Angina symptoms are usually relieved by rest and medications such as nitroglycerin. However, more aggressive treatments such as stent insertions and angioplasties may be needed in serious cases. The cause of chest pain is often difficult to discern, and for that reason the Mayo Clinic suggests that anyone experiencing chest pain seek prompt medical attention.
Angina usually causes chest pain and pressure. The length of the pain depends on the type of angina occurring. Stable angina and variant angina usually last only a few minutes, but unstable angina can last up to half an hour. The pressure may be intense and feel as though a heavy weight has been placed on the chest. Woman may experience a sharp, stabbing pain.
Individuals suffering from an angina attack often feel short of breath. Breathing may be labored, or it may be rapid. Breathing difficulties often are the first sign of an angina attack.
Angina can also cause sudden fatigue and dizziness. Some individuals may feel nauseous. Women, especially, may experience nausea and stomach pain. In addition, angina pain can radiate to the arms, back, shoulders, neck and jaw.
Stable Angina Treatments
Stable or chronic angina is a type of angina that occurs regularly when an individual overexerts himself physically or when he is under emotional or mental stress. It is the most common type of angina. For some, this type of angina may be mistaken for indigestion. This type of angina usually last less than 5 minutes and fades away with rest and medication. Aspirin therapy may be used to prevent further complications from stable angina. The Mayo Clinic advises that if a person with reoccurring stable angina develops new or different symptoms, he should seek medical attention.
Unstable Angina Treatments
Unstable angina is more intense and longer lasting than stable angina. It also can occur without any type of stress. This type of angina usually does not respond to rest and medication. Unstable angina may indicate that a heart attack is imminent. Thus prompt medical treatment is needed. Treatments include medications or surgical procedures to restore and improve blood flow to the heart.
Variant Angina Treatments
Variant angina is a rare but severely painful type of angina. It is also referred to as Prinzmetal's angina. This type of angina occurs when a coronary artery spasms and usually occurs when an individual is resting. Variant angina responds to medications such as nitroglycerin.