ANGINA, What Is it?
Angina,usually marked by discomfort in the chest, is one of the most ubiquitous signs of cardiovascular disease. This intermittent condition affects more that 9.8 million Americans, according to the American Heart Association. Pain from angina is a warning sign that the heart muscle is not getting enough oxygenated blood.The most common cause of angina is coronary heart disease, defined by narrowing or blockages in the coronary arteries, which carry the blood to the heart. As we age, arteries can become clogged with a cholesterol-laden substance called plaque, particularily in those who smoke, are sedentary, are obese, or who consume a diet high in saturated fats.Classic angina symptoms include heaviness, aching, or pressure below the breastbone. During a typical episode of angina, cardiac nerves and pain receptors in the heart convey feelings of chest discomfort to the brain. Also, there are the less traditional symptoms, including shortness of breath, nausea, tingling, sweating, dizziness and pain in the teeth.Women are more likely than men to experience the less traditional symptoms. The concern is that some women may ignore these symptoms because they do not recognize them as angina.It must be added that chest pain doesn’t always signal angina. Other potrential sources of chest discomfort include acid reflux, a pulled muscle or muscle tension, gallstones, inflammation in the cartilage of the ribs, and problems in the spine’s cervical region. This said, it is best to remember that ANY chest discomfort warrants and examination by your doctor.
Johns Hopkins Medical Letter

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