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Question: What do I need to know about Angina?
Angina or chest pain is one of the most common reason people visit their doctor. Nearly 10 million Americans are diagnosed with angina. Angina is defined as chest pain or discomfort caused by heart disease. The American Heart Association (AHA) defines it as a symptom of the condition known as myocardial ischemia. Pain occurs when the myocardia (the heart muscle) gets insufficient blood and oxygen (ischemia). It is often the first sign of heart disease.
Angina generally signals that you have narrowing in one, or possibly more, of your coronary arteries. Angina is an alarm. It is the heart’s way of telling you that it’s not getting enough oxygen.
The main causes for angina is atherosclerosis or the buildup of cholesterol-laden plaques on the interior walls of your arteries. As plaques grow, it restrict blood flow causing pain. Keep in mind, if plaque tears or ruptures, a blood clot can form that completely blocks blood flow. This usually causes a heart attack which probably means irreversible damage to your heart muscle.
Several risk factors accelerate the formation of plaques. Some of these factors are beyond the control of the individual. For example, if you have a family history of heart disease, you are more likely to develop heart disease. This is one reason your physician is interested in your family history. Age is another uncontrollable factor. The older you are, the longer you are around for plaque to develop.
Other factors are in your control. Those are the ones we constantly discussed. Smoking, overweight and a diet high is salt are all factors that damage the thin layer of protective cells that line the interior surface of blood vessel.
Symptoms of for angina are tightness and pressure in your chest. You may have numbness or tingling in your jaw, shoulders, arms and fingers. You may also have sweating, breathlessness, nausea or fatigue.
If you feel you may have any of these symptoms or risk factors, contact your primary care physician so he/she can refer you to a Cardiologist for the treatment of angina. Remember, time is heart muscle.
Question: What are the risk factors for women?
Knowing your numbers such as cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and body mass index is an important part of heart health. Equally as important is to know the risk factors that you have control and the ones you cannot control. Imagine below these two columns as a mathematical formula:
RISK FACTORS THAT CAN BE MANAGED RISK FACTORS YOU CAN’T CONTROL
High Blood Pressure Age
High Blood Cholesterol Heredity (Family History)
Lack of Regular Activity Race
Obesity or Overweight Previous Heart Attack
Diabetes Previous Stroke
Risk factors that you cannot control have been pre-determined. On that side of the equation, it remains constant. The other side is a different story. You do have control. Your environment and its surroundings allow this side of the equation workable. Simply put, if you have 50% of the risk factors that you cannot control, it only takes one factor from the controllable side to off balance and causes a higher risk for heart disease.
Let’s discuss these manageable risk factors for women:
- Blood Pressure is a major risk factor. When your blood pressure is normal, you will reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys.
- Controlling your cholesterol allows a reduction of clog arteries. Thereby preventing plaque build -up which provides proficient blood flow.
- Reducing blood sugar will lessen the possibility of damage to the heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves.
- Regular activity is the most rewarding gift you can give to your body. During exercise, your blood flow is directed to your muscles and away from areas not doing much such as your digestive tract. This increases blood flow and blood volume returning to your heart. As the volume increases, your left ventricle adapts which causes your heart to hold and ejects more blood.
- When you lose unnecessary weight, you reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and skeleton. This also causes a reduction in blood pressure.
- Eat a healthy diet. Eat foods that are low in saturated fat, Trans fat, and cholesterol. Limit your salt intake. Eat more foods high in omega -3 fatty acids such as fish.
- STOP SMOKING PLEASE! It is the most preventable cause of death. Chemicals in tobacco damage your blood cells. Smoking increases the risk of atherosclerosis or plague. Smoking limits the flow of oxygen to your organs.