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.


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.



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).

  • Bioresorbable Scaffolds (Stents)

    This is a biodegradable device that can be used like a coronary stent. [READ MORE]

  • Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing (CPET)

    This test shows how the heart, lungs and muscles react when exercise is undertaken. [READ MORE]

  • Coronary Angiogram

    This minimally invasive procedure is used to visualise the coronary arteries and assess the severity of any blockage. [READ MORE]

  • Coronary Angioplasty

    This minimally invasive procedure is used to treat narrowing of the coronary arteries. [READ MORE]

  • CTCA Scan & Calcium Score

    This scan is used to ascertain the risk of a heart attack or stroke within the next 5-10 years. [READ MORE]

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) Test

    An ECG is a simple test that looks at the electrical activity of the heart. [READ MORE]

  • Exercise Tolerance Testing

    This test measures the effects on the heart rhythm and blood pressure when exercise is undertaken. [READ MORE]

  • MRI Scan / CMR Scan

    These scans enable cardiologists to view detailed images of the heart’s anatomy. [READ MORE]

  • Stress Echocardiography

    This is a procedure that uses ‘echo’ and ECG to assess how the heart’s blood vessels are working using either exercise or a drug to increase the heart rate. [READ MORE]



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