Angina is known as a ‘miniature heart attack’ that is caused by a short-term blockage. It is a heart condition in which the person will experience pain or pressure in the chest area. However, not all chest pain is heart-related. Find out what to look for and what to do in the event of an angina attack.
What is Angina?
Angina is a type of chest pain or discomfort that occurs when the blood supply to the heart muscles is restricted. This usually happens when the arteries that supply the blood suddenly become hardened and narrowed. It is often triggered by strenuous physical activity or stress and only lasts for a few minutes. This condition is also referred to as ‘angina attack.’
Currently, there are three types of angina.
The most common type occurs when the heart muscles are not getting enough blood flow during physical activity.
The most serious and deadly type occurs without warning. Unstable angina occurs even you are not physically active.
The rare type usually happens at night or early morning during rest.
Some factors can cause angina symptoms to occur. These are called ‘angina triggers.’ It includes high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and family history of heart disease.
Be wary of recurrent chest pain as you are more likely to have other heart-related illnesses or stroke.
Signs & Symptoms of Angina
- Pain or discomfort in the chest, which may feel tight, dull, or heavy that can last for 3 to 8 minutes.
- Pain in other areas of the body, including the arm, neck, jaw, back, or shoulders,
- Pale, clammy skin
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue or feeling of extreme tiredness
- The feeling of gas or indigestion
- Pain that comes and goes
First Aid Treatment for Angina
If you suspect someone having an angina attack, follow the basic first aid plan to assess the casualty.
Here’s what you should do in the event of an angina attack.
Sit the person down
Have the casualty put an immediate pause to what they are doing and help them to sit down. Stay and try to make the person comfortable. The best position for them would be on the floor with knees bent and head and shoulders supported.
Ask the person if they’re taking any angina medications, such as spray or table. If they have it with them, assist the person in taking it. If they have had an angina attack before and have been prescribed nitroglycerin – dissolve 1 tablet under the tongue. If it is a nitroglycerin spray, use it under the tongue and wait for 5 minutes.
Take a second dose
If the pain is still noticeable five minutes after taking the medication, we suggest taking a second dose.
Call Emergency Services
If after those steps the pain is still there, or the pain comes and goes, suspect it is a heart attack. Call triple zero (000) for emergency help.
The general rule for an angina attack is if the pain subsides 15 minutes after taking medication or enough rest, the person can go back to their normal activities. If they have concerns, it is best to seek medical advice.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill for angina, and until now, there has been no permanent cure. The best you can do is to apply for some first aid relief and work with your doctor. They may advise you to start some lifestyle changes and prescribe medications.
Living with Angina
Living with this condition means controlling your risk factors and triggers. If you have a history of heart attack or stroke, follow the treatment plan assigned by your doctor for healthy living. Take your prescribed medications and learn first aid to provide appropriate treatment when necessary.