Angina is caused by calcification of the coronaries in the heart and appears as attacks of oppressive or contracted pains in the chest. Calcification is preventable. You must call the doctor immediately if your chest pains last longer than 10 minutes, if they come while you rest, if nitroglycerine does not help or if the chest pains are more powerful than usual.
Angina – angina pectoris as the doctors call it – is a very common illness. Especially men are struck and frequency increases with age.
The heart is a big muscle that – like other muscles in the body – needs oxygen. The heart has its own veins (coronaries) that make sure that the heart is supplied with the required oxygen. If the heart does not have a sufficient blood supply, angina occurs. If the coronaries are calcified, sufficient blood will not be able to reach the heart. When the heart works hard – for example when you exert yourself or are outside in cold weather – it require extra oxygen and thereby extra blood from the coronary artery. That is why angina frequently arises when making an effort or in cold weather.
So calcification of the coronaries is a significant cause of angina. Our veins – including the coronaries – start to calcify in a very early age. With smoking, obesity, raised blood pressure, elevated levels of cholesterol in the blood, lack of exercise and diabetes significantly accelerate calcification. By changing these conditions – for example by stop smoking, losing weight, exercise and eat healthy – it is possible to prevent the development of angina.
Usually, angina appears by chest pains. The pains are located behind the breastbone right in the centre of the chest. The pains are described as oppressive, contracted and can radiate out into the left arm or up into the jaw. Most feel ill at ease with trouble breathing, dizziness or palpitation and are scared. An ordinary attack of angina lasts from a few minutes to a maximum of 10 minutes.
Typically, the illness begins with chest pains in connection with heavy physical strain – for example by running or hard work. Gradually, as the coronaries become more and more affected by calcification the chest pains trigger by less and less strain. When the coronaries are almost completely blocked by calcification, chest pains may arise even though you are sitting still in a chair. When the coronaries close completely, you have a coronary thrombosis.