What is Angina?

April 16, 2017

 

You are running along your favorite trail and suddenly a pain stats accumulating in your jaw. The harder you push, the worse it gets. You decide to sit down and rest and after a few minutes it goes away. You again start to run and the pain returns, what is going on?

Angina is a condition where the heart muscle isn’t receiving enough oxygen in order to maintain the current workload put on the body. Simply put oxygen demand exceeds oxygen production. This is caused by narrowing of the arteries found in the heart. This narrowing process is known as atherosclerosis where plaque build up leads to the hearts arteries to decrease in size.

 

What are the signs and symptoms? The classic symptom is tightness in the chest. Other symptoms can include pain in the arm, jaw, upper back and even abdomen. The pain gets worse as the activity is continued ie: walking up hill, running, but decreases with rest.

Individuals experiencing these symptoms should consult with a physician immediatley. An ECG and angiogram can be performed to see if there are any blockages in the arteries of the heart.

 

Can I still exercise if I have angina? The answer is yes, but in a more controlled fashion. What I mean is individuals who have angina usually undergo bypass or have stents put in to alleviate this pain. However sometimes surgery is not an option and the blockage is controlled with medication. Nitroglycerin is often prescribed and it’s effect is to dilate or open up arteries if the individual is experiencing tightness in the chest. This enables you to continue exercising without the discomfort of angina. Nitro is a prescribed medication and you should consult with you doctor before thinking about using it.

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