CLINICAL I Common conditions
Angina–management of chest pain Ian Peate, Senior Lecturer, School of Life and Health Sciences, University of Roehampton
What it is Angina is pain, often described as constricting discomfort felt in the chest, in the neck, shoulders, jaw, or arms. The pain is caused by an insufficient blood supply to the myocardium and is a symptom of coronary artery disease.
Angina is also known as angina pectoris (from the Latin, pectus, a chest); often, people describe the pain as squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightness or pain in the chest. Some people with symptoms of angina report a vice-like squeezing of their chest or a heavy weight that is lying on their chest.
Angina is brought on by physical exertion or emotional stress. There are some people who may experience atypical symptoms, for example, gastrointestinal discomfort, shortness of breath or nausea.
Angina is the primary symptom of myocardial ischaemia (restriction in blood supply to the heart) and this is generally caused by atherosclerotic obstructive coronary artery disease that results in a restriction of blood flow and therefore oxygen delivery to the heart muscle.
There are two main types of angina : ● Stable angina (this is more common):
attacks have a trigger, for example, stress or exercise (these are called provocative stimuli) and stop within a few minutes of resting ● Unstable angina is a more serious kind of angina. Attacks are more unpredictable (they may not have a trigger) and they may continue despite resting. Unstable angina can develop after having stable angina. Risk factors The risk factors of angina are the same as those that are associated with cardiovascular disease. The term cardiovascular disease is a term that
A diseased heart affected by a coronary thrombosis and an aneurysm. Chromolithograph by Wilhelm Gummelt, ca 1897.
describes a wide range of conditions affecting the heart, the blood vessels or both. It is caused by blood clots (thrombosis) or atherosclerosis (thickening or hardening of the arteries).
Cardiovascular disease is a significant cause of death and illness and accounts for nearly a quarter of all deaths in the UK (British Heart Foundation, 2022). Various risk factors increase a person’s
March 2022 Vol 16 No 3 British Journal of Healthcare Assistants