Angina, a cardiac condition that causes tightness or pressure across the chest, is the result of a decrease of oxygen supply to cardiac tissue. Patients suffering from angina experience this pain radiating to the jaw, teeth, neck, arms, or back. While angina is not always a serious indication of a cardiac disorder it is, by itself, unpleasant. However, there are several lifestyle changes that can prevent or delay the onset of angina.
For patients suffering from stable angina, there are often certain triggers (increased exercise, exposure to cold weather, etc.), which will cause the onset of angina. Patients who experience stable angina should become familiar with these triggers and learn ways of coping with them. Some individuals experience angina as the result of increased emotional stress. Finding ways to reduce stress, such as mediation, light exercise, or yoga, can help prevent or delay the onset of angina. Reducing stress can also improve heart health and increase personal energy.
Increasing physical activity, especially through activities such as jogging, swimming, and cycling, can help alleviate angina and other cardiac disorders. Patients experiencing angina should ease into a regular pattern of exercise, taking care to not over-exert, as this will exacerbate the symptoms of angina and possibly discourage further exercise. A regular exercise pattern can also help reduce weight, which can also alleviate episodes of angina. In addition to exercise, patients may see benefit by adjusting their diet and removing heavily caloric, or unhealthy foods.
For some patients, exposure to smoke (through smoking or second-hand smoke), can cause episodes of angina. If this is the case, it is imperative to stop smoking or to remove exposure to second-hand smoke. In addition to contributing to the onset of angina, smoke exposure can be detrimental to the lungs.
Patients who suffer from angina may be prescribed nitroglycerin. Nitroglycerin is used to expand the blood vessels and reduce blood pressure, alleviating the painful symptoms of angina. It is important that this medication is not taken beyond the recommended dose. Overdose of nitroglycerin in an effort to alleviate symptoms can cause blood pressure to drop rapidly and can lead to death. Before taking nitroglycerin, check the expiration date to make sure the medication is still usable. Expired medication will not provide relief and can be detrimental to your health.
As angina can be a precursor to numerous cardiac disorders, it is important to take a proactive approach. Making lifestyle changes that increase cardiac performance and improve personal health can increase longevity and quality of life. However, not all forms of angina can be prevented through simple lifestyle changes. It is important to meet regularly with a cardiologist to determine the severity of your condition and if further medical attention is required.