Regular listeners to Healthy Matters know that I often can’t get to all the questions that come from listeners via phone or text message, or I can’t answer the questions as thoroughly as I’d like when doing live radio. So every so often I’m going to use this blog to post a few “quick tips” in response to listener questions. Nothing in-depth, just a few tips I think are interesting.
And you can always listen to old shows by clicking the “Listen to podcasts” link in upper right of this blog.
Remember, these are just quick tips and are not complete medical advice. Be sure to click the link in each section for more information!
These are from the Sunday, February 7 show.
One texter this morning asked about angina – what is it, does it mean there is heart disease, and what to do about it.
Angina pectoris is a mix of Greek (“strangling”) and Latin (“chest”) and is the term we use to describe pain in your chest which is due to coronary heart disease. This is the blockage of your coronary arteries by plaque that some of us know as “hardening” of the arteries. Coronary heart disease also leads to heart attacks – an unstable, emergency situation, but angina is the stable condition that comes when your heart isn’t getting enough blood to meet the demands being asked of it. In other words, the heart is doing fine when at rest, but doesn’t have the reserve required for exertion or stress.
- Angina occurs with exertion, stress, and hot or cold temperatures and is relieved with rest or nitroglycerin.
- It usually feels like a pressure or squeezing in the chest (hence the name which means “strangling”).
- There are lots of variations in symptoms, particularly in women, and may also feel like nausea, indigestion, or include arm, neck, and jaw pain.
- Angina usually lasts just a few minutes.
- Symptoms are usually predictable – not coming out of the blue at unexpected times. Onset with exertion/stress, relief with rest/medications.
If you think you may be having angina, then you should be seen by your doctor for tests. There are good medications and other treatments for angina. Importantly, if the symptoms are becoming more frequent or severe, or occur at rest, then you may have unstable angina which requires urgent attention. Like right now attention, not tomorrow or next week.
For more, check out the reliable American Heart Association site.