Angina – SG

Understanding Angina

Understanding Angina: Causes, Symptoms, and Paramedic Treatment

Angina is a common symptom of an underlying heart condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by chest pain or discomfort that occurs when the heart muscle doesn’t receive enough oxygen-rich blood. We will delve into what angina is, the pathology behind it, its causes, the signs and symptoms with varying levels of severity, and the crucial role paramedics play in providing effective treatment during angina episodes.

What is Angina?

Angina is a type of chest pain that occurs when there is reduced blood flow to the heart muscle. It typically arises due to coronary artery disease (CAD), which involves the buildup of plaque in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. As the arteries become narrowed or blocked, the heart muscle may not receive enough oxygen to meet its demands, leading to the characteristic discomfort or pain.

Pathology Behind Angina

The underlying pathology of angina is rooted in the compromised blood flow to the heart caused by narrowed or blocked coronary arteries. Plaque, a combination of cholesterol, fat, and other substances, accumulates on the inner walls of the arteries over time, forming atherosclerotic lesions. These lesions gradually reduce the lumen’s diameter, obstructing blood flow and impeding oxygen delivery to the heart muscle.

Causes of Angina

The primary cause of angina is coronary artery disease. Other factors that may contribute to angina include:

  1. Physical exertion: Engaging in activities that demand increased oxygen supply to the heart, such as exercising or climbing stairs, can trigger angina in individuals with CAD.
  2. Emotional stress: Intense emotions, such as anxiety, fear, or anger, can elevate heart rate and blood pressure, exacerbating angina symptoms.
  3. Cold weather: Exposure to cold temperatures can lead to narrowed blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the heart and triggering angina.
  4. Heavy meals: Digesting large, heavy meals can divert blood flow to the digestive system, potentially worsening angina in susceptible individuals.

Signs and Symptoms of Angina

Angina can manifest in various ways, and the severity of symptoms can vary:

  1. Stable angina: The most common type, typically triggered by physical exertion or stress. Patients experience chest discomfort or pain that is predictable, consistent, and often relieved by rest or medication.
  2. Unstable angina: This type is more severe and unpredictable. The pain may occur at rest or with minimal exertion and may not respond adequately to medication or rest.
  3. Variant angina (Prinzmetal’s angina): This rare type is caused by temporary spasms of the coronary arteries, leading to reduced blood flow. It often occurs at rest and may be relieved with medication.

Paramedic Treatment for Angina

When responding to an angina episode, paramedics play a crucial role in providing immediate care and ensuring the patient’s safety. Their primary objectives are to relieve symptoms and stabilize the patient’s condition during transport to a medical facility. The treatment typically involves:

  1. Oxygen administration: Paramedics provide supplemental oxygen to increase oxygen levels in the blood and alleviate chest pain.
  2. Medications: Nitroglycerin is a common medication used to relax and widen blood vessels, improving blood flow to the heart. Paramedics may administer nitroglycerin tablets or spray under the tongue to relieve angina symptoms.
  3. Pain management: Paramedics monitor the patient’s pain level and administer appropriate pain relief medications if necessary.
  4. Continuous monitoring: Throughout the intervention, paramedics closely monitor the patient’s vital signs, including heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation.
  5. Rapid transport: Depending on the severity of angina and the presence of associated risk factors, paramedics promptly transport the patient to a medical facility for further evaluation and specialized care.

Angina is a significant warning sign of underlying heart conditions, most commonly coronary artery disease. Understanding its causes, symptoms, and varying severity levels is crucial for both patients and healthcare providers. As first responders in emergencies, paramedics’ swift and effective treatment during angina episodes can provide much-needed relief to patients and ensure their safe transport to medical facilities for further evaluation and management. Recognizing the importance of early intervention and appropriate care underscores the invaluable role that paramedics play in the overall management of angina and its associated heart conditions.

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition characterized by airway inflammation and narrowing, leading to troublesome breathing difficulties. Understanding the underlying pathology, common triggers, and severity levels of asthma is vital for effective management and treatment. As first responders, paramedics play a crucial role in providing immediate care to patients experiencing asthma exacerbations. By accurately assessing the severity of the attack and promptly administering appropriate treatments such as bronchodilators and oxygen, paramedics can help stabilize patients and improve their chances of a successful recovery. Early recognition and intervention are key in managing asthma and providing patients with the best possible outcomes.