Angina Pectoris

Condition causing acute but temporary chest pain because of interference with the supply of oxygen to the heart caused by narrowed coronary arteries.

Persons most commonly affected: More common in men in middle and older age; postmenopausal women.
Organ or part of body involved: Coronary arteries.
Symptoms and indications: A strangling or constrictive pain behind the breastbone, radiating up to the neck and face, shoulders and arms (commonly the left arm), brought on by exertion and relieved by rest. There may be numbness or feeling of heaviness and tingling in the whole or part of the left arm. Also, there may be a feeling of choking and breathlessness and tightness across the chest, and also feeling of nausea and sometimes accompanied by vomiting.
Causes and risk factors: Angina pectoris is caused by an inadequate blood supply to the heart muscle. During exercise, the demand for blood supplied by the coronary arteries is increased and if the supply is insufficient because the arteries are damaged, chest pain results. The most common reason for this damage is atherosclerosis, along with spasm of the coronary arteries. Less commonly, disease in the aorta itself may be a cause of angina pectoris. Factors thought to contribute to the development of this condition include inadequate exercise, a diet rich in saturated fats and salt, high blood pressure, stress, obesity, smoking, diabetes mellitus and genetic factors.
Prevention: Incidents of angina can be prevented by adequate exercise (a half-hour walk each day is much better than nothing at all), a reduction in use of saturated and salt in the diet, by not smoking and by reducing weight if obese. Avoid stressful situations. Eat a varied and healthy diet; leafy vegetables, unprocessed cereals, low-fat, high-fibre products.