Stable angina or angina pectoris is a very common problem that affects around .5 million people in the USA every year. Currently, about 10million people in the United States are suffering from it. This kind of angina is the most common across the globe. In this article, we will talk about stable vs unstable angina.
Stable angina occurs when you feel a constant sensation of chest discomfort or chest pain. You can feel breathless or might be unable to breathe properly. This condition occurs because your heart doesn’t receive enough oxygen-filled blood to continue working properly.
This happens when one of your arteries is blocked and thus, there is not enough space for the oxygen-rich blood to reach your heart muscles. This blockage of the artery is called ischemia.
Angina manifests differently in men and women. However, most commonly, all patients feel pain or discomfort in the middle of their chest.
Stable angina is less severe than unstable angina, which can be life-threatening in most cases. Have a glance at the following article to know more about stable angina, its causes, symptoms, and treatment.
Staying informed about angina is important as it can signal some heart conditions.
Causes of Stable Angina
Stable angina can have a number of possible causes. Let’s have a look at them:
- Smoking is one of the leading causes of stable angina.
- Blockage of your arteries or ischemia can cause this condition. Your arteries often get clogged due to cholesterol and calcium deposits. The development of blood clots in the arteries is also a common phenomenon.
- The narrowing of your blood vessels or arteries is called atherosclerosis. This reduces the flow of oxygenated blood to your heart.
- When you are performing an act of physical exertion, such as running or climbing stairs, your heart needs to work faster and harder. This requires more oxygen-filled blood whose flow is restricted due to narrow or blocked arteries.
- Emotional distress is another significant cause. The science behind this cause is that your heart has to work harder during this time.
- In case you live in a very hot or very cold place, you might be more prone to stable angina as compared to a person who lives in a place with a tropical climate.
Symptoms of Stable Angina
Stable angina has a variety of symptoms. If you detect these in time, you can visit your doctor to start your treatment before the situation gets worse.
Let’s have a look at some of the common symptoms:
- The pain that you feel during an episode of angina can last around 5 minutes.
- This pain gives you a feeling of pressure and discomfort at the center of your chest.
- You might also feel breathless and get a feeling that this pain can be because of gas.
- At times, this pain can travel to your back, neck, arms, and shoulders. Certain patients also experience pain in their throat and jaw.
- A sensation of nausea and possible vomiting are some frequent symptoms.
- You can reduce these symptoms by taking rest. This reduces the pressure on your heart.
- You might feel lightheaded or dizzy. During these times, it is best to pause whatever you are doing and sit down to catch your breath.
- You can experience fatigue and exhaustion.
- Unexplained anxiety and excessive sweating coupled with feeling weak in the knees are common symptoms.
Let’s have a look at the difference between stable and unstable angina so that you can identify them properly.
Difference Between Stable and Unstable Angina
- Patients often experience that the pain of stable angina is not surprising while that of unstable angina is sudden.
- Stable angina occurs usually when you exert pressure on your heart during physical activity. Unstable angina typically occurs when you are at rest.
- Pain from stable angina usually lasts about 4-5 minutes maximum while pain from unstable angina can be long lasting. This pain can get worse with time. It might eventually result in a heart attack.
- Since stable angina only lasts a few minutes, it cannot harm your heart badly. However, unstable angina can damage it permanently.
- Stable angina is not a medical emergency as much as unstable angina as it can cause a series of heart attacks.
- Both these conditions have different causes. While stable angina occurs due to your heart’s inability to manage the exhaustion of exercise, unstable angina occurs due to the presence of a blood clot in your artery.
Treatment of Stable Angina
Let’s have a look at the treatments available for stable angina:
A lifestyle change is in order if you are suffering from stable angina. You need to start making healthy food, sleep and exercise choices if you want to reduce and eliminate your episodes of stable angina.
You can begin by including light yoga and breathing exercise in your routine. In addition, you should add some fruits and vegetables to your diet.
Next, quitting smoking is necessary if you want a chance at getting better. All these measures improve your quality of life as well as your well-being and health. This reduces the risk of heart and other lifestyle diseases.
If a lifestyle change doesn’t do the trick for you, you might have to visit your doctor to start a medication course. Doctors commonly prescribe Nitroglycerin to reduce your symptoms of stable angina.
It relieves you of the pain immediately by reducing the excessive pressure on the heart. If you suffer from any other condition like diabetes or high cholesterol, your doctor might prescribe you medicine for those conditions to reduce your overall chance of experiencing angina episodes.
In addition, to prevent the blockage of your arteries, you might also receive a dose of blood thinners.
However, in severe cases, surgery is the only option.
Also Read: 4 Natural and Healthy Ways to Relax
In case medicines are unable to treat your angina, doctors insert a balloon in your artery followed by a stent to ensure that it is not blocked again. This also prevents the artery from narrowing.
This minimally invasive procedure is called angioplasty. But, if the doctor diagnoses you with coronary heart disease, you will need open-heart surgery.
Angioplasty reduces your symptoms of angina while open-heart surgery involves removing the affected pieces of your artery.
The Final Word
In case you experience any of the symptoms of stable or unstable angina, please book an appointment with your doctor ASAP. Both these conditions can indicate a serious heart problem.
To avoid the development of these conditions, exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, and do not overexert yourself.
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