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Angina is usually caused due to coronary heart disease, which is the narrowing of the heart’s arteries, restricting the amount of oxygenated blood supplying the cardiac muscle. 

What is angina?

Angina is usually caused due to coronary heart disease,, which is the narrowing of the heart’s arteries, restricting the amount of oxygenated blood supplying the cardiac muscle. At rest, this restricted blood supply may not present any significant deficit to the way the heart functions, however, under exercise conditions, the heart must work harder to accommodate this increase in demand for blood to the other muscles around the body. It is during this increase in demand that the restriction to the heart’s own muscle supply presents as a characteristic symptom which is usually chest pain or chest tightness and should not be ignored despite the symptom usually subsiding soon after cessation of the exercise.

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What are the symptoms of angina?

Angina is a form of chest discomfort that generally occurs when you exert yourself; often occurring when running up a flight of stairs, walking up hills, when feeling particularly stressed or when doing more than usual. The discomfort may take the form of chest tightness, pressure, pain or shortness of breath. It can also be brought on in cold weather. It may suggest that one or more of the arteries that supply blood to your heart are narrowed. This is potentially very serious and you should seek medical advice. Experiencing the same symptoms at rest may indicate unstable angina or a heart attack and immediate medical attention should be sought by calling 999 to get early assessment.

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What assessment do I need if I have angina?

Although the diagnosis of angina can be strongly suggestive by the symptoms, there are certain tests that are performed to make a positive diagnosis. Usually, an ECG is performed at baseline followed by either an exercise test, stress echocardiogram, a CT Coronary Angiogram or Cardiac MRI. An invasive coronary angiogram procedure may be needed and your Consultant will discuss with you which option is best for you.

What are the treatments for angina?

Treatment options available include medication to control or reduce risk factors such as raised cholesterol, or intervention which may be in the form of angioplasty or stent insertion to unblock the restricted arteries or surgery (coronary artery bypass grafting).

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