Some people become 'heart-conscious' after a heart attack and may be worried by symptoms such as fatigue, palpitations, or heartburn.
People sometimes have various pains when they return home. Most of these arise in the muscles of the chest wall and are unimportant. Pains of this kind usually subside within a few weeks as you become more active. Some people do experience chest discomfort or pain arising from the heart. This pain is called 'angina'.
WHAT IS ANGINA?
Angina is the heart muscle's complaint of poor circulation - it is not a heart attack. It is when the heart's demand for oxygen from the blood exceeds the supply.
Angina is caused by narrowing of the coronary arteries. This is usually due to atherosclerosis.
Angina may also be caused by coronary artery spasm. Spasm is the involuntary contraction of the coronary artery that causes a temporary narrowing of the artery.
A number of factors may hasten the narrowing of coronary arteries. These are the same Risk Factors that increase your chances of having a heart attack.
Remember! Reducing your Risk Factors reduces angina.
Angina is not usually severe and often disappears with rest. It can also be greatly relieved with medications that improve blood flow to the heart muscle and relieve discomfort within 3 to 5 minutes.
Angina is not felt the same way by everyone. The feeling can be any of the following:
Pain or tightness in the centre of the chest
Pain or tightness in one or both arms
Pain in the throat or jaw
A feeling of discomfort or pressure in the chest.
Angina is the signal that a part of the heart muscle is temporarily not receiving enough oxygen. This occurs when your heart muscle is working a little harder than usual due to excitement, exercise, walking quickly or eating a large meal. However, some people experience angina while sleeping or sitting quietly.
While a person with angina can usually continue a normal lifestyle, some of the more strenuous activities that induce angina will need to be avoided.
When you are in a hurry to do an activity the heart requires considerably more oxygen, which in turn may lead to angina.
If you choose to do your activities at a moderate pace, allowing for short rest periods, then the heart will require less oxygen and your chance of experiencing angina is reduced. Notice your usual pattern of angina and be alert to any changes. Notify your doctor if:
Pain becomes more frequent
Pain is brought on with very little exertion.
Despite medications and activity adjustments your doctor may recommend an exercise stress test and/or coronary angiography in order to evaluate the location and extent of the atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries.
MEDICATION FOR ANGINA
If you experience angina you will need to know how to take your prescribed medication. Either Anginine tablets or Nitrolingual spray will be prescribed.
Anginine tablets and Nitrolingual spray are not harmful nor addictive.
Remember the following:
Keep your medication with you at all times.
Keep Anginine tablets in their original bottle and make sure the lid fits tightly as the tablets deteriorate when exposed to light. You may like to ask your chemist about a pharmacy-approved container for better protection against light exposure.
Anginine tablets deteriorate after a period of time. Write the date on the tablets when you buy them. They last only 6 months when unopened. Write the date on the bottle when you open it. Once the bottle is opened the tablets will last only 3 months. Nitrolingual spray lasts for up to 2 years. Make sure you check the expiry date on your spray.
Place the tablet or the spray under the tongue. Allow the tablet to dissolve or chew it until dissolved in your mouth. Do not swallow it. After spraying it is best to close your mouth so that you receive the full benefit of the Nitrolingual.
Until you know your reaction to your angina medication it is advisable to sit or lie down for at least 10 minutes after using it, as you may experience dizziness from a temporary lowering of blood pressure.
Anginine may cause headaches. If these occur, a % or Vi tablet may be sufficient to relieve chest discomfort.
Angina medication may be used before doing an activity you know will produce angina.
Discard all old Anginine tablets and Nitrolingual spray.
WHAT TO DO FOR PROLONGED ANGINA PAIN
If pain is unrelieved 5 minutes after taking 1 tablet or 2 sprays, take a second tablet or spray a third or fourth time. If severe pain persists over the next 5 minutes take a third tablet. It is recommended you do not take more than 4 sprays because the spray is absorbed much faster than the tablets. If severe pain persists for more than 20 minutes after onset, seek help by ringing the Australia-wide emergency number:
Ask for MICA (Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance).
Cardio & Blood