We are going to cover a variety of conditions over the coming months to make aware of common ailments that effect many of us. This will help you better understand the types of cover we offer and how insurers treat them. This will hopefully help you make an informed decision over the long term.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia. Angina is a symptom of heart disease.
What is Angina?
Chest pain of discomfort caused by insufficient blood flow and oxygen to the heart. This is most commonly a result of a narrowing of the coronary arteries. The pain is caused by chemicals produced when the heart muscle has to function with inadequate oxygen.
Angina usually occurs during exertion, severe emotional stress, or after a heavy meal. This is because during these periods the hear muscle demands more blood oxygen than the narrowed coronary arteries can deliver.
The most common sympton of an angina attack are:
– Pain or discomfort in the middle of the chest
– Pain which is accompanied by breathlessness and sweating
– Pressure or a feeling of tightness in the chest
– Radiating pain to the neck, jaw and left arm, or both arms, and in some cases in the upper back and shoulders
Signs such as nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, sweating, light-headedness, or weakness also may occur.
Angina is not a disease; it is a symptom of an underlying heart problem, usually coronary heart disease (CHD). Many people dont know they have CHD until they have an angina heart attack.
CHD is caused by a slow build-up of fatty deposits on the inner wall of the blood vessels around the heart. These deposits gradually clog the arteries and reduce the flow of blood to the heart.
If a blood clot forms in the narrowed artery and completely bloks the blood supply to part of the heart, it can cause a heart attack.
Are you at risk in an Angina?
There is a no single cause for CHD. However men, and people with a family history of heart disease, are at greater risk of experiencing symptoms, such as angina.
Other risk factors include:
- Increasing age
- High Cholesterol and Blood Pressure
- Physical inactivity
- Being overweight
- Depression, social isolation and a lack of social support
Prevention and Treatment
There are a range of treatment options for angina available. The aim of treatment is generally to reduce pain and discomfort, and prevent or lower the risk of heart attack and death.
Medicines – such as nitrates, beta blocking drugs and calcium-channel blocking drugs may be taken for symptom relief during an episode of angina or an ongoing basis to prevent agina.
Surgical treatments are also considered effective in the treatment of angina. These include coronary bypass surgery and coronary artery angioplasty.
Lifestyle changes can help prevent episodes of angina, such as:
- A healthy diet
- Avoiding large and heavy meals
- Avoiding stressful situations
- Quitting Smoking
- Increase excercise
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
Due to the nature of the condition, statistics on the prevelance of angina are difficult to quantify, however a study by students at the University of Queensland in 2004 found.
– In the year 2000, an estimated 500,000 Australians agec over 35 years experienced symptoms indicative of angina
– Overall, there were around 600,000 angina-related GP visits in the year 2000
– In the same year, there were around 40,000 hospitalisations related to a primnciple diagnosis of stable or unstable angina
Other data tells us that:
– Heart disease is the leading single cause of death in Australia;
– In 2004-05, 18% of Australians (approximately 3.5 million) reported having a long term cardiovascualr condition, with 28% of those reporting having experienced angina.
(2004) uncovering the burden of angina pectoris in Australia, Heart Lung & Circulation, 13 Suppl. 2: S62-S63.
Mentions: Russell, M.E., Snell, R., Thompson, D., May, E. and Stewart, S.