Angina Pectoris Lawyer - Medical Malpractice Lawyers
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Angina Pectoris Overview
Angina pectoris is a specific type of chest pain caused by blockages in the heart arteries. It is a symptom of coronary artery syndrome. Patients describe this type of pain as being heavy, a pressure, a squeezing type of pain and a tightness or pain in the chest area. It is a common problem but it can be difficult to tell angina pain from other common types of chest pain.
There are several cardinal symptoms related to angina pectoris. They include the following symptoms:
- Pain or discomfort in the chest
- Pain that radiates to the arm, jaw, neck, shoulder or back
- Shortness of breath
Angina pain can be described as a squeezing type of pain, pressure in the chest, a dull ache, pain or fullness in the middle of the chest. It often feels like a vise is squeezing the chest or that the chest is very heavy. Some simply describe it as indigestion. Angina pain can be short-lasting or it can last several hours.
Angina can be stable or unstable. Stable angina is the most common and usually happens with exertion. It disappears with rest. If you have this kind of pain and it is of new onset, you should see your doctor right away for further evaluation. Signs of stable angina are that it is worse with exercise and is relatively predictable. It lasts just a few minutes and disappears with the use of angina medicine or rest.
Signs of unstable angina include the following:
- The pain occurs at rest
- The pain is out of the norm of one’s usual pain
- The pain is severe and lasts 30 minutes or longer
- Is an unexpected pain
- May not go away with angina meds
- May signal a heart attack
- Is a medical emergency
Angina can occur in women as well as men. Angina symptoms in women can be of a different character than that seen in men. They can have neck pain, back pain or jaw pain instead of the typical chest pressure.
Angina is caused by a reduced amount of oxygen to the heart. The most common cause is blockage of the heart arteries in a condition called “atherosclerosis”. There is a relative blood flow loss in stable angina in which the heart is beating faster and needs more oxygen. In unstable angina, the blockage is more stable and involves narrower arteries. In variant angina, which is also called Prinzmetal’s angina, the lack of oxygen is caused by spasm in the arteries of the heart.
The risk factors for angina pectoris include the following:
- Tobacco use
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- High triglycerides
- Family history of heart disease
- Lack of exercise
The complications of angina pectoris that happen when the condition is not treated include a heart attack and arrhythmias of the electrical system of the heart. The pain becomes long lasting and exaggerated. If this is not treated, the patient can permanently lose muscle tissue in the heart.
The diagnosis of angina pectoris begins with a regular EKG. It checks for heart problems and lack of oxygen at rest. An exercise stress test employs exercise along with monitoring to see if exercise makes the heart suffer from a lack of oxygen. An echocardiogram uses ultrasound technology to see whether or not the walls of the heart are moving strongly enough. It can be used during an exercise stress test to have a more accurate representation of the function of the heart. A nuclear stress test measures the blood flow reaching the heart at rest and with activity.
Other tests include blood tests that look at cardiac enzymes. They are released from heart muscle when the heart is damaged. A coronary angiogram uses a catheter and dye to see the actual amount of blockage in the heart arteries. A cardiac CT scan can also show the degree of blockage in the heart.
Complications of the management of the management of angina pectoris include failure to recognize the disease, failure to recognize the severity of the disease and failure to properly treat the disease before it becomes a heart attack.
Angina - Medical Malpractice Lawyers
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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here