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Angina Pectoris in Detail

Angina Pectoris in Detail

Angina pectoris – commonly known as angina – is chest pain due to ischemia of the heart muscle, due in general to obstruction or spasm of the coronary arteries.The main cause of Angina pectoris is coronary artery disease, due to atherosclerosis of the arteries feeding the heart. There is a weak relationship between severity of pain and degree of oxygen deprivation in the heart muscle (i.e., there can be severe pain with little or no risk of a Myocardial infarction (commonly known as a heart attack), and a heart attack can occur without pain). In some cases, angina can be extremely serious and has been known to cause death. People who suffer from average to severe cases of angina have an increased percentage of death before the age of 55, usually around 60%. Worsening (“crescendo”) angina attacks, sudden-onset angina at rest, and angina lasting more than 15 minutes are symptoms of unstable angina (usually grouped with similar conditions as the acute coronary syndrome). As these may herald myocardial infarction (a heart attack), they require urgent medical attention and are, in general, treated as a presumed heart attack.

Angina pectoris

Angina pectoris

Types of Angina Pectoris

Stable angina

This refers to the more common understanding of angina related to myocardial ischemia. Typical presentations of stable angina is that of chest discomfort and associated symptoms precipitated by some activity (running, walking, etc.) with minimal or non-existent symptoms at rest or with administration of sublingual nitroglycerin.Symptoms typically abate several minutes following cessation of precipitating activities and recur when activity resumes. In this way, stable angina may be thought of as being similar to intermittent claudication symptoms.

Unstable angina

Unstable angina (UA) (also “crescendo angina”; this is a form of acute coronary syndrome) is defined as angina pectoris that changes or worsens. It has at least one of these three features: it occurs at rest (or with minimal exertion), usually lasting >10 min it is severe and of new onset (i.e., within the prior 4–6 weeks) it occurs with a crescendo pattern (i.e., distinctly more severe, prolonged, or frequent than before). UA may occur unpredictably at rest, which may be a serious indicator of an impending heart attack. What differentiates stable angina from unstable angina (other than symptoms) is the pathophysiology of the atherosclerosis. The pathophysiology of unstable angina is the reduction of coronary flow due to transient platelet aggregation on apparently normal endothelium, coronary artery spasms, or coronary thrombosis.The process starts with atherosclerosis, and when inflamed leads to an active plaque, which undergoes thrombosis and results in acute ischemia, which finally results in cell necrosis after calcium entry. Studies show that 64% of all unstable anginas occur between 10 PM and 8 AM when patients are at rest. In stable angina, the developing atheroma is protected with a fibrous cap. This cap (atherosclerotic plaque) may rupture in unstable angina, allowing blood clots to precipitate and further decrease the lumen of the coronary vessel. This explains why an unstable angina appears to be independent of activity

Microvascular angina

Microvascular Angina or Angina Syndrome X is characterized by angina-like chest pain, but the cause is different. The cause of Microvascular Angina is unknown, but it appears to be the result of spasm in the tiny blood vessels of the heart, arms, and legs.Since microvascular angina is not characterized by arterial blockages, it is harder to recognize and diagnose, but its prognosis is excellent.

Signs and Symptoms of Angina Pectoris

Chest Pain

Chest Pain

Angina pectoris can be quite painful, but many patients with angina complain of chest discomfort rather than actual pain: The discomfort is usually described as a pressure, heaviness, tightness, squeezing, burning, or choking sensation. Apart from chest discomfort, anginal pains may also be experienced in the epigastrium (upper central abdomen), back, neck area, jaw, or shoulders. This is explained by the concept of referred pain, and is due to the fact that the spinal level that receives visceral sensation from the heart simultaneously receives cutaneous sensation from parts of the skin specified by that spinal nerve’s dermatome, without an ability to discriminate the two. Typical locations for referred pain are arms (often inner left arm), shoulders, and neck into the jaw. Angina is typically precipitated by exertion or emotional stress. It is exacerbated by having a full stomach and by cold temperatures. Pain may be accompanied by breathlessness, sweating, and nausea in some cases. In this case, the pulse rate and the blood pressure increases. Chest pain lasting only a few seconds is normally not angina (such as Precordial catch syndrome). Myocardial ischemia comes about when the myocardia (the heart muscles) receive insufficient blood and oxygen to function normally either because of increased oxygen demand by the myocardia or because of decreased supply to the myocardia. This inadequate perfusion of blood and the resulting reduced delivery of oxygen and nutrients are directly correlated to blocked or narrowed blood vessels. Some experience “autonomic symptoms” (related to increased activity of the autonomic nervous system) such as nausea, vomiting, and pallor. Major risk factors for angina include cigarette smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sedentary lifestyle, and family history of premature heart disease. A variant form of angina (Prinzmetal’s angina) occurs in patients with normal coronary arteries or insignificant atherosclerosis. It is thought to be caused by spasms of the artery. It occurs more in younger women

Risk factors of Angina Pectoris

Age (≥ 55 years for men, ≥ 65 for women),Cigarette smoking,Diabetes mellitus (DM),Dyslipidemia,Family history of premature cardiovascular disease (men <55 years, female <65 years old),Hypertension (HTN),Kidney disease (microalbuminuria or GFR<60 mL/min),Obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2),Physical inactivity,Prolonged psychosocial stress.

Diagnosis of Angina Pectoris

Angina should be suspected in people presenting with tight, dull, or heavy chest discomfort that are Retrosternal or left-sided, radiating to the left arm, neck, jaw, or back. Associated with exertion or emotional stress and relieved within several minutes by rest. Precipitated by cold weather or a meal. Some people present with atypical symptoms, including breathlessness, nausea, or epigastric discomfort or burping. These atypical symptoms are particularly likely in older people, women, and those with diabetes.[28] Anginal pain is not usually sharp or stabbing or influenced by respiration. Antacids and simple analgesia do not usually relieve the pain. If chest discomfort (of whatever site) is precipitated by exertion, relieved by rest, and relieved by glyceryl trinitrate, the likelihood of angina is increased. Even constant monitoring of the blood pressure and the pulse rate can lead us to some conclusion regarding the angina. The exercise test is also useful in looking for other markers of myocardial ischaemia: blood pressure response (or lack thereof, in particular a drop in systolic pressure), dysrhythmia and chronotropic response. Other alternatives to a standard exercise test include a thallium scintigram or sestamibi scintigram (in patients unable to exercise enough for the purposes of the treadmill tests, e.g., due to asthma or arthritis or in whom the ECG is too abnormal at rest) or Stress Echocardiography. In patients in whom such noninvasive testing is diagnostic, a coronary angiogram is typically performed to identify the nature of the coronary lesion, and whether this would be a candidate for angioplasty, coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), treatment only with medication, or other treatments. There has been research that concludes that a frequency is attained when there is increase in the blood pressure and the pulse rate. This frequency varies normally but the range is 45–50 kHz for the cardiac arrest or for the heart failure.[clarification needed] In patients in hospital with unstable angina (or the newer term of “high-risk acute coronary syndromes”), those with resting ischaemic ECG changes or those with raised cardiac enzymes such as troponin may undergo coronary angiography directly.

ECG Features of Angina Pectoris

Angina Pectoris ECG

Angina Pectoris ECG

In angina patients momentarily not feeling any chest pain, an electrocardiogram (ECG) is typically normal, unless there have been other cardiac problems in the past. During periods of pain, depression, or elevation of the ST segment may be observed. To elicit these changes, an exercise ECG test (“treadmill test”) may be performed, during which the patient exercises to his/her maximum ability before fatigue, breathlessness, or pain intervenes; if characteristic ECG changes are documented (typically more than 1 mm of flat or downsloping ST depression), the test is considered diagnostic for angina. Bundle branch block particularly LBBB ST depression, horizontal or down sloping more than 0.5 mm Tall pointed T waves which are either upright or inverted U wave inversion or increase is its amplitude The most specific medicine to treat angina is nitroglycerin. It is a potent vasodilator that makes more oxygen available to the heart muscle. Beta blockers and calcium channel blockers act to decrease the heart’s workload, and thus its requirement for oxygen. Nitroglycerin should not be given if certain inhibitors such as Sildenafil (Viagra), Tadalafil (Cialis), or Vardenafil (Levitra) have been taken within the previous 12 hours as the combination of the two could cause a serious drop in blood pressure. Treatments for angina are balloon angioplasty, in which the balloon is inserted at the end of a catheter and inflated to widen the arterial lumen. Stents to maintain the arterial widening are often used at the same time. Coronary bypass surgery involves bypassing constricted arteries with venous grafts. This is much more invasive than angioplasty. The main goals of treatment in angina pectoris are relief of symptoms, slowing progression of the disease, and reduction of future events, especially heart attacks and death. Beta blockers (e.g., carvedilol, propranolol, atenolol) have a large body of evidence in morbidity and mortality benefits (fewer symptoms, less disability and longer life) and short-acting nitroglycerin medications have been used since 1879 for symptomatic relief of angina.Calcium channel blockers (such as nifedipine (Adalat) and amlodipine), isosorbide mononitrate and nicorandil are vasodilators commonly used in chronic stable angina. A new therapeutic class, called If inhibitor, has recently been made available: Ivabradine provides pure heart rate reduction leading to major anti-ischemic and antianginal efficacy. ACE inhibitors are also vasodilators with both symptomatic and prognostic benefit. Statins are the most frequently used lipid/cholesterol modifiers, which probably also stabilize existing atheromatous plaque.Low-dose aspirin decreases the risk of heart attack in patients with chronic stable angina, and was is part of standard treatment. However, in patients without established cardiovascular disease, the increase in haemorrhagic stroke and gastrointestinal bleeding offsets any benefits and it is no longer advised unless the risk of myocardial infarction is very high.

Life Style Modification

Exercise is also a very good long-term treatment for the angina (but only particular regimens – gentle and sustained exercise rather than intense short bursts),probably working by complex mechanisms such as improving blood pressure and promoting coronary artery collateralisation. Identifying and treating risk factors for further coronary heart disease is a priority in patients with angina. This means testing for elevated cholesterol and other fats in the blood, diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure), and encouraging smoking cessation and weight optimisation. The calcium channel blocker nifedipine prolongs cardiovascular event- and procedure-free survival in patients with coronary artery disease. New overt heart failures were reduced by 29% compared to placebo; however, the mortality rate difference between the two groups was statistically insignificant. The fatty acid oxidation inhibitor mildronate is a clinically used anti-ischemic drug for the treatment of angina and myocardial infarction.Mildronate shifts the myocardial energy metabolism from fatty acid oxidation to the more oxygen-sparing glucose oxidation under ischemic conditions,by inhibiting enzymes in the carnitine biosynthesis pathway including gamma-butyrobetaine dioxygenase.Mildronate also inhibits carnitine acetyltransferase and therefore acts as a myocardial energy metabolism regulator.

Prinzmetal Angina

ST elevation that returns to normal through the phase T inversion. In ventricular aneurym ST elevation does not return to normal months after infarction.

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