What is Angina? -- Causes and Cures

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By Susan Callahan, Health Editor and Featured Columnist
January 3, 2009, last updated November 17, 2013

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of
Doctors and
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of
our Editorial Board.]

What is angina and how does it differ from a heart attack?  
Angina pectoris is chest pain or discomfort that occurs
when an area of your heart muscle does not get enough
oxygen from your blood. The majority of people who
eventually have a heart attack or heart disease experience
angina first.  Angina affects approximately 9.6 million
Americans, according to a 2011 study lead by DR. Andrew
Gardner of the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center.

Angina may feel like pressure or squeezing in your chest.
The pain can also occur in your shoulders, arms, neck,
jaw, or back.   If you experience angina, it may feel like
indigestion.  This is one of the dangers of angina. It can
seem so much like indigestion that many people take
antacids, the pain may subside, they forgot about and go
back to sleep.  
Some later find that they have had heart
attacks. Or they may not wake up at all.

Angina itself is not a disease. Rather, it is a symptom of an
underlying heart problem. Usually that underlying problem
coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common type
of heart disease.    

Two Different Types of Angina

There are various types of angina. Stable angina is
characterized by a pain which occurs when you engage in
certain activities. You may mistake it for a pulled muscle or
an anxiety attack.  Because it may seem to come and go,
stable angina is often mistakenly ignored until it becomes
more serious.

The second type of angina is "unstable" or "variant"
angina. This type of angina feels more severe and
spasmodic. Left untreated, the pain intensifies over time.
The pain seizes you suddenly and gets worse.


Vitamin D Can Help Increase Survival for Angina Patients

If you have unstable angina and you suffer a heart attack,
Vitamin D can increase your chances of survival. According
to 2012 study by doctors from the Medical School of Bahia
in Salvador, Brazil, patients whose  Vitamin D levels were
below normal (defined as having less than 10 ng/dl) were
more than 5 times more likely to  die than those with
normal Vitamin D levels. The study examined 206 patients
admitted to the hospital with unstable anigina.  

After being treated for their coronary problems, only 4.9%
of the patients with normal Vitamin D levels died. In other
words, they had a survival rate of 95.1%.  However, an
astounding 24% of those with deficient Vitamin D levels
died. (Read more about how to increase your Vitamin D

What To Do If you Have Angina Pectoris

1. See a Doctor

2. Follow a
good heart-healthy diet and exercise plan

3. Watch your sugar intake especially. Sugar has a
powerful connection to disease.

4. Avoid the disease of isolation.  If angina leads to a heart
attack, a good social network could help keep you alive in
an emergency.

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