Symptoms of angina pectoris
Pain behind the sternum is the typical symptom of angina pectoris. Many people suffer from pain throughout the entire chest area, but the pain is often felt most strongly directly behind the sternum. The pain is usually described as dull, stabbing or drilling.
This is usually accompanied by a strong feeling of tightness or pressure in the chest. Many affected persons have the feeling as if a heavy sack had been placed on their chest. In addition to the pain behind the breastbone, this often results in shortness of breath, which is caused by the feeling of pressure.
Pain radiating into the left arm is typical for heart diseases of all kinds. Particularly associated with pain are heart attacks and angina pectoris. Both diseases are caused by coronary heart disease, in which the coronary vessels are constricted or blocked and therefore the heart muscles cannot be supplied with sufficient oxygen and nutrients.
This mechanism causes pain. The conduction of the pain sensation from the heart to the brain takes place via nerve fibres. These are bundled with many other nerve fibres from different parts of the body and thus run together for part of the way to the brain.
Due to this bundled nerve course, the brain is sometimes unable to distinguish from which body region the pain originates and mistakenly perceives it in the area of the left arm. In principle, it is also possible to perceive the pain in the right arm, but such complaints occur much less frequently. The reason for this lies in the anatomy of the human body: the heart is located on the left side of the chest, therefore the associated nerve fibres are normally bundled with the other fibres of the left half of the body.
This topic may also be of interest to you: Angina pectoris seizureThe angina pectoris usually manifests itself as chest pain. In addition, there is a feeling of tightness or pressure on the chest. This leads to shortness of breath in many patients.
In addition, breathlessness and angina pectoris symptoms are often accompanied by each other, as they both occur during physical exertion. People who are physically active consume more oxygen and therefore have to breathe more. In addition, the muscles in particular need to be supplied with more blood, which is why the heart has to do more pumping work.
Heart diseases such as coronary artery disease also cause a lack of oxygen to the heart, resulting in angina pectoris symptoms. Angina pectoris is usually caused by coronary heart disease. Due to the undersupply of oxygen to the heart tissue, pain develops which is normally felt in the chest area.
However, they can also radiate to other parts of the body. Adjacent organs are particularly often affected. While men often suffer from chest pain or a tightness of the chest, women often complain of stomach or upper abdominal pain.
In some cases, pain in the upper abdomen is even the only symptom of angina pectoris. Abdominal pain is often accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Pain in the upper abdomen – These are the most common causes.
Angina pectoris attacks often express themselves not only through chest pain. In many cases the pain radiates to other parts of the body. The upper abdomen and stomach are often affected, especially in women.
This not only causes pain in the stomach region, but also often leads to nausea and vomiting. Since some people with coronary heart disease suffer exclusively from nausea, vomiting and stomach pain without chest pain or other heart-specific symptoms, angina pectoris should also be considered in the event of more frequent episodes of the complaints. Back pain in general is a common complaint and is usually caused by poor posture of the body when sitting.
However, if the back pain occurs in the form of a dull, stabbing or piercing pain, a heart disease may be behind the complaints. Back pain in particular, which is located in the area of the thoracic spine, should also be examined with regard to heart disease. Many sufferers experience a kind of belt-shaped pain that wraps around the ribcage.
This results in a combination of back and chest pain, which is particularly typical of angina pectoris complaints. While men often report very specific pain behind the breastbone, the symptoms in women are much more varied and unspecific, which is why it can often take longer to diagnose angina pectoris in them. If a person suffers from back pain in the form of a seizure, a specific examination should be carried out for coronary heart disease.
This triggers attacks of angina pectoris in many patients, which are usually perceived as chest pain, but often also as back pain. Jaw and toothache initially make one think of an actual problem in the dental field. However, jaw pain can also be an expression of many other diseases.
In the case of angina pectoris it is possible that the chest pain radiates additionally into the area of the jaw and teeth. Sometimes the jaw/tooth pain can also be present without the occurrence of the chest pain. The jaw pain can also be caused by a general tension in the body.
Angina pectoris attacks in particular put the body in a stressful situation. In addition, the seizures are often associated with anxiety or panic. Among other things, this can cause increased tension in the jaw muscles (“clenching teeth”).
A sore throat, such as occurs with colds and coughs, is rather an untypical symptom of angina pectoris. However, the sensation of pain, which is usually located in the chest area, can also be felt in other parts of the body. Thus, chest pain is typically described as stabbing, piercing or dull.
If such a sensation of pain occurs in the neck region, it may also be a sign of angina pectoris. A possible explanation for the development of this pain is the joint interconnection of the responsible pain-conducting nerve fibres. As a result, the brain is no longer able to distinguish whether the origin of the pain is in the neck or chest area.
Neck pain is rather rare in angina pectoris symptoms, but it can still occur. They are triggered by the fact that the pain radiates from the chest and back area to the neck. A possible explanation for this is that the brain does not have many pain-conducting nerve fibres in the area of the internal organs.
This means that the pain cannot be perceived at a specific point. Instead, the feeling of pain is felt in a larger area of the body. In some people the pain area of the heart is therefore extended to the neck.
Therefore, the pain can also be perceived by the heart in the neck. In addition, an angina pectoris attack is accompanied by a stress reaction of the body and can thus lead to a reflex tension of the neck muscles. This results in tension in the neck, which in turn can cause pain.
In connection with an angina pectoris attack, a feeling of fear/panic and inner restlessness often occurs. Increased physical exertion leads to a reduced supply of the heart muscles. On the one hand, this causes the chest pain known as angina pectoris, on the other hand it also leads to a feeling of tightness in the chest.
The tightness or pressure on the chest alone can cause fear or panic. It also makes breathing more difficult and thus triggers a feeling of breathlessness, which in turn can increase panic. It is because of these mechanisms that the term “heart anxiety” has been coined, which describes the fear and panic associated with an angina pectoris attack or heart attack.
People with angina pectoris symptoms suffer from heart disease. As a result, they often get out of breath faster during physical exertion and start sweating earlier. An acute attack of angina pectoris can also cause sudden outbreaks of sweating.
These are triggered by the pain in the chest area. In addition, such a seizure can also cause fear or panic, which leads to an activation of sweat production in the body. The symptoms of angina pectoris are often less pronounced in diabetics.
As with other affected persons, angina usually occurs in the form of chest pain, which can radiate into the back, left arm and jaw. Stomach pain, nausea and vomiting can also occur. The increased blood sugar level in diabetics attacks nerve fibres, among other things, so that pain stimuli can only be passed on to the brain to a lesser extent. For this reason, the pain that occurs with angina is perceived less strongly by diabetics. Due to the loss of nerve fibres, diabetics more often suffer a silent heart attack, in which a heart attack occurs but no pain is perceived.