Angina Pectoris

Angina Pectoris–commonly known as angina– is chest pain due to ischemia of the heart muscle, generally due to obstruction or spasm of the coronary arteries. The main cause of angina pectoris is Coronary Artery Disease, due to atherosclerosis of the arteries feeding the heart. There is a weak relationship between severity of pain and degree of oxygen deprivation in the heart muscle.

Worsening angina attacks, sudden-onset angina at rest, and angina lasting more than 15 minutes are symptoms of unstable angina. As these may herald myocardial infarction, they require urgent medical attention and are generally treated as a presumed heart attack.


Most patients with angina complain of chest discomfort rather than actual pain: the discomfort is usually described as a pressure, heaviness, tightness, squeezing, burning, or choking sensation. Apart from chest discomfort, anginal pains may also be experienced in the epigastrium, back, neck area, jaw, or shoulders.

This is explained by the concept of referred pain, and is due to the spinal level that receives visceral sensation from the heart simultaneously receiving cutaneous sensation from parts of the skin specified by that spinal nerve’s dermatome, without an ability to discriminate the two. Typical locations for referred pain are arms, shoulders, and neck into the jaw.

Angina is typically precipitated by exertion or emotional stress. It is exacerbated by having a full stomach and by cold temperatures. Pain may be accompanied by breathlessness, sweating and nausea in some cases. In this case, the pulse rate and the blood pressure increases. Chest pain lasting only a few seconds is normally not angina.

Myocardial ischemia comes about when the myocardia receive insufficient blood and oxygen to function normally either because of increased oxygen demand by the myocardia or by decreased supply to the myocardia. This inadequate perfusion of blood and the resulting reduced delivery of oxygen and nutrients is directly correlated to blocked or narrowed blood vessels.

Risk Factors

Major risk factors for angina include cigarette smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sedentary lifestyle and family history of premature heart disease.

A variant form of angina occurs in patients with normal coronary arteries or insignificant atherosclerosis. It is thought to be caused by spasms of the artery. It occurs more in younger women.

  • Age 55+ for men, 65+ for women
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking Cigarettes
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Kidney Disease
  • Family History of Cardiovascular Disease
  • Hypertension

The Benefits of EECP with Angina

EECP or External Counterpulsation Therapy is a non-surgical treatment option that increases blood flow to the heart.  EECP is a safe treatment that has been proven is several hundred clinical research trials to improve symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath and increase patient exercise tolerance.

EECP treatment wraps a series of blood pressure-like cuffs around the lower extremities around the calfs, thighs, and buttocks to physically squeeze blood back to the heart on each heart beat.  The treatment process is precisely timed on the patient heart beat to inflate the cuffs in a sequential format to methodically deliver blood back to through coronary arteries with great force. The mechanical force of oxygenated blood flow to the heart is proven to restore heathy tissue and promote the development of new collateral vessels in the heart.  This increase in flow over time is restores a healthier heart and body.

The power of EECP is hard to explain in words but think of the challenges faced with patients that have Coronary Artery Disease.  As the patients age over time, the arteries become hardened as well as blockages develop making effective delivery of blood flow more difficult.  You couple the deteriorating physiology inside the vessels with less physical exercise then it is easy to understand why EECP Therapy can be an effective treatment.  EECP immediately improves Endothelial Function which is the performance of the inner lining of the arterial wall.  This performance in critical in your vessels ability to expand and contract to meet changes in demand for oxygenated blood. Further, when Endothelial Function is in balance, it is proven to slow the progression of Atherosclerosis connected to Angina and Coronary Artery Disease.

EECP Therapy is administered on an out patient basis in a Cardiology clinic or hospital.  EECP Treatment is proven provide great benefit to patients that complete the 35 day treatment course.  Each treatment session is one hour in length.  Think of this as an exercise program where there is no effort or risk to the patient.

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