Chest pains can be terrifying for someone who doesn't know what they mean or why they are happening, and many people have mistaken the symptoms of angina for either a heart attack or indigestion. While the symptoms of angina are easy to misdiagnose, the chest pain that goes along with it can be severe in and of itself. This, at least, should warrant attention and further investigation on the part of the patient.
Types of Angina
A person can have one of several different kinds of angina, which vary in the severity of the pain that they cause, the source of the angina symptoms, and the angina treatment that should be used for them. The most common form of angina is known as stable angina, and makes itself known through chest pains that are usually triggered by the same types of exertion or in the same general circumstances. As with other types of angina, this is a sign of coronary heart disease (CHD), which is a common type of heart disease. CHD, and the angina that accompanies it, are major heart attack risks. There are medications that assist in the relief of stable angina, the angina pain of which can also be diminished by a few minutes of rest. Unstable angina differs from stable angina in that it requires absolutely immediate medical attention, and possibly signifies an incipient heart attack. The pain may or may not be relieved with rest, and there is no way to predict when it will strike.
While both stable and unstable angina can be caused by a CHD, the symptoms of variant, or Prinzmetal's angina is caused by coronary artery spasms, often in the early hours of the morning. Unlike stable angina, the pain of this cannot be alleviated by rest, though it can be helped by medication. A type of angina pain that cannot be alleviated by medication is microvascular angina, the root cause of which has not yet been discovered. The pain, though, is caused by a malfunction of the smaller blood vessels in the heart and other areas.
The most common and recognizable angina symptoms are chest pain or pressure in the chest, and common treatments of some types of angina are rest and medication. It's important to note, though, that there are other symptoms of angina, and that there are other reasons that a person could have chest pains, some of them serious and some of them not. If a major artery tears, or if someone has a lung infection, they will likely suffer from chest pain, but chest pains can also be caused by anxiety attacks.
If a person has chest pains of any kind, they should immediately seek medical attention so that the problem can be diagnosed. If they have angina, then certain steps can be taken to attempt to correct the problem, from medication to lifestyle changes. When given proper treatment angina, or at least certain forms of it, can respond in a very positive fashion, perhaps even helping the patient to avoid a heart attack. While the symptoms of angina can be very painful, they are best viewed as signals of a deeper issue that needs to be addressed. In this way, treatments for angina can help to address, not just chest pains, but the health of the person in general.
Treatments for angina vary according to the variety of angina that the patient has. Stable angina, for instance, can receive the angina treatment of either surgery or medication. The surgery is an angioplasty (which is often the treatment for unstable angina as well) or, in severe cases, coronary bypass surgery. Some people, however, may not need to get surgery in order to control their stable angina, and may instead opt to take medications or change their lifestyle as a treatment for angina. Some medications that can be used as angina treatments are asprin, statins, nitrates, and beta blockers, among other things, all of which should be taken under a doctor's supervision. Regardless of how a person chooses to control their angina, they should do so under a doctor's care in order to insure their best chance of a healthy future.