Angina – Precursor to Heart Disease
01/31/2005

More than six million people in the United States have it according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Yet, many do not realize it's a sign of heart disease. Angina is the chest pain or discomfort that occurs when the heart doesn't get enough blood and oxygen.

According to AHA, the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart become clogged from a buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances which create plaque.

When an artery becomes clogged, angina can occur and the pain or discomfort usually lasts a few minutes.

People that have angina usually experience symptoms when they exercise, have sex, feel stress, become angry or upset, and when they work in very hot or cold weather.

Symptoms include:

  • Chest feels tight or heavy
  • Pressure, squeezing or burning in chest
  • Discomfort may spread to arm, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Numbness or tingling in shoulders, arms or wrists
  • Shortness of breath (or difficulty breathing)
  • Sick to stomach

You can lower your chance of having angina attacks by making a few lifestyle changes. The AHA recommends the following steps to help you feel more comfortable every day:

  • Stop smoking, and avoid other people's tobacco smoke.
  • Eat healthy meals low in saturated fat, cholesterol and salt.
  • Control high blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures.
  • Avoid strenuous activities.
  • Learn to relax and manage stress.

See your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms.

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