Symptoms of Heart Disease
Angina pectoris is a symptom that occurs when blood supply to an area
of the heart muscle doesn't meet its needs. Angina may be felt as heaviness
below the breastbone which may spread to either arm, to the neck or the
back. On occasion, angina can be an indigestion-like discomfort in the
upper stomach or a burning or heartburn-like feeling below the breastbone.
Angina may occur during physical activity, at rest or it may awaken you
when you're asleep. Angina that becomes more frequent or severe, or that
occurs at rest and lasts for longer periods of time, is of greater concern.
This change in pattern of angina is known as UNSTABLE ANGINA and may be
an early warning sign of a heart attack. When angina lasts for longer
than 20 minutes, there is a risk that heart damage has occurred. If this
occurs, you should call your doctor or, if there is any delay, have someone
take you to the nearest hospital's Emergency Department.
Myocardial infarction is the medical term for heart attack. It has also
been known as coronary thrombosis or simply as "coronary". The
pain of myocardial infarction lasts longer than that of angina pectoris.
Generally there is prolonged, sudden crushing chest pain accompanied by
shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, vomiting and perhaps lightheadedness.
This pain may spread to the arms, neck, jaw, shoulders and back. For some
people symptoms of angina and heart attack may be felt only as shortness
of breath. For others, heart attacks may occur silently without any symptoms
of chest pain or they may be passed off as mild indigestion.
Nitroglycerin is one of the oldest medications available for the treatment
of angina and heart disease. Nitroglycerin dilates blood vessels reducing
the workload of the heart and improves blood flow to the heart. Nitroglycerin
is used under the tongue to treat attacks of angina. Follow these directions
for the use of Nitroglycerin.
- If you have chest pain: Stop what you are doing.
- If the discomfort does not subside within several minutes, take a
Nitroglycerin under your tongue. Avoid swallowing while the tablet dissolves.
When doing so you should ensure that you are sitting or lying. Nitroglycerin
can lower the blood pressure and cause dizziness and you should avoid
standing after taking the medication for approximately 20 minutes.
- There are two different sizes of Nitroglycerin, 0.3 mg and 0.6 mg.
You may take one 0.3 mg every five minutes up to a total of four pills
or one 0.6 mg every ten minutes up to a total of two pills. If your
angina has not subsided after 20 to 30 minutes, then there is a chance
you may be having a heart attack and you should either contact your
physician immediately or have someone take you to the nearest hospital.
- Nitroglycerin is also available as a spray of 0.4 mg. It should be
sprayed under the tongue and then the mouth should be closed. Nitrospray
has a much longer shelf life than Nitroglycerin tablets. Nitroglycerin
must be fresh to be effective. Cap the bottle quickly and tightly after
each use. Replace an opened bottle after three months even if there
are tablets left. Protect tablets from light.
- You should never use Nitroglycerin while driving. Do not avoid taking
the medication if you need it, but pull over first. If you are having
angina, you should take the medications.
Contact your physician or have someone take you to the hospital if your
chest pain or other cardiac symptoms do not go away.