Angina - Tight Chest Pain
What is angina?
Angina (also known as chest pain, constriction, tightness in the chest) is derived from Latin and translates as "tight chest." It feels like an oppressive, heavy, crushing, or a constricting feeling in the center of the chest behind the breast bone (sternum) or on the left side of the front of the chest. The tightness may increase during times of emotional stress, after eating, or exercise. The pain can radiate out to either one or both arms, more often the left. It can be experienced in the throat, jaw, the stomach and, more rarely, between the shoulder blades.
What causes angina?
Cardiac ischemia—insufficient blood flow to heart tissue—and angina can be caused by the following: blocked artery, aortic valve disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, microvascular constriction, pulmonary hypertension, or coronary artery spasm. Atherosclerosis is the build-up of cholesterol deposits (plaques) in the wall of an artery. If the surface of a plaque ruptures, a blood clot (thrombus) may form on top of it and create a larger blockage. If the clot grows large enough, it can completely obstruct the artery. A 70% or greater blockage can deprive the heart of the volume of blood needed to meet an increased demand and can cause angina.
What are some risk factors for angina?
The following might put you at risk for developing angina or a similar condition:
• diets high in refined carbohydrates
• lack of exercise
• insufficient zinc, magnesium and vitamins A and E in the diet
• diet high in hydrogenated fat
• high blood pressure
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