Q. Is an attack of angina dangerous to life ?
A. No, any single attack of angina is usually not dangerous to life, and can and should be treated by the patient himself with temporary cessation of any of strenuous activity and by the use of drugs like nitroglycerine, prescribed to him by the doctor.
Patients suffering from unstable angina, however, are liable to end up with myocardial infarction, and naturally, need more intensive and individualised care. The presence of angina of any type is an evidence of the presence of coronary atheroma and ischaemic heart disease, and the increased susceptibility to heart attacks.
It is, therefore, important to recognize the difference between a heart attack and an attack of angina.
Q. Since the character of pain is not different in angina and infarction, how does a patient recognize that a particular episode of pain is a heart attack and not simply angina ?
A. A very important question indeed. The differentiation can be made by observing certain important points: Any heart pain which:
- has not subsided in 20 minutes after rest.
- continues to recur,
- is accompanied by:
— profound weakness,
— cold sweat,
— palpitations or irregular pulse (if you can make out the irregularity) and
— difficulty in breathing
is likely to be an attack of myocardial infarction and needs urgent cardiological treatment. If there is any doubt, a physician must be immediately consulted in order to decide whether or not such treatment is necessary.
Cardio & Blood