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Angina: how serious it is and what are the symptoms of an attack. Anyone got any experience please?

(14 Posts)
OrmIrian Wed 04-Nov-09 20:53:04

My wonderful father is 78 and has been diagnosed with angina. He has had a few attacks but none of them serious it seems. Main problem is that he is scared and a very down. He keeps saying how sad he feels when he thinks of all the things he has done and won't be able to do again sad WHen the DC and I turned up he got quite tearful (not like him at all)

He is also claiming that his spray doesn't work - he has a tight feeling in his chest and can't take a breath but as this is happening all the time and the GP didn't hospitalise him I am assuming it's not that serious. I wondered if he was suffering from panic attacks - when I had them I experienced that horrible tight chest feeling.

GP is making an appointment with a consultant - apparently he is si fit otherwise there may be 'further options'. What options?

Anyone, medical bod or otherwise, tell me anything about angina please. I am feeling quite shaken and sad after today.

AMumInScotland Wed 04-Nov-09 21:03:38

My dad (71) has angina - but it doesn't stop him from doing things in general. For him, ,its just a tightness round the chest and lack of breath when he exercises - things like a walk up a steep hill. He has pills for it now, and it's pretty much under control.

I don't know if your dad has it worse, but it sounds like maybe it's the worry which is making it feel worse.

AMumInScotland Wed 04-Nov-09 21:05:55

Would you be able to go to the appointment with him? Hopefully the doc should be able to reassure him that it's controllable. I don't know what else they do for it apart from pills - not even sure what they are called, sorry.

OrmIrian Wed 04-Nov-09 21:06:13

I think it is too. It's a new diagnosis. Thanks amis. How long has your dad had it?

His mum also has heart problems in the end and I think it's bothering him.

AMumInScotland Wed 04-Nov-09 21:09:53

About 3 or 4 years now I think. It really hasn't stopped him from being active. They go off out geocaching, and catch buses all over the place to go on walks.

Hopefully the doc will be able to explain that, as "heart problems" go, it's not that bad a one.

OrmIrian Wed 04-Nov-09 21:14:53

Thanks so much amis. That is reassuring.

Mum and I tried to tell him that more or less today but I then wondered if we were being complacent.

AMumInScotland Wed 04-Nov-09 21:20:35

I just took a look at the NHSDirect site to see if there's more information - do have a look. It seems like there is a stable form - which is what my dad has, it just comes on after exercise and doesn't last long. And an unstable form which is more a symptom of problems. So it maybe depends which type he has.

But stress is another thing which sets off the stable form, so if he's stressing about his symptoms, he's going to be bringing them on, which doesn't help!

OrmIrian Wed 04-Nov-09 21:22:04

I just did have a quick look actually but I wanted to hear some real experiences.

AMumInScotland Wed 04-Nov-09 21:33:25

Yes, it's hard with these websites to decide what it's really like, isn't it!

satansauruswrecks Wed 04-Nov-09 21:36:48

The first thing he needs to know is that having angina doesn't mean that he is going to have a heart attack. He can lead a very normal life, and do all the things he wants to do, but it may mean that he just has to slow down a wee bit! Angina usually comes on with exertion and goes off with rest. It can also be brought on by extremes of temperature (so it may be that he's feeling it more in the cold mornings)as wel as emotional upheaval - be it excitement or stress. The GTN spray should provide relief from his angina symptoms, as it opens up the coronary arteries, and improves the blood flow to the heart muscle, however he needs to make sure he's using it correctly, so I'd advise him to speak to his pharmacist about this. It's also worth mentioning that some people find that GTN tablets work better for them, though they're a bit more of a faff.
If he has been referred to a rapid access chest pain clinic, then he'll have a full MOT on the same day. They will take a full history, and usually do an exercise test. This is really useful as it can show if he's getting angina on exertion. They will also make sure that he's on all the appropriate medications to keep his angina under control.
The other option that the GP has alluded to would be an angiogram, I assume. This looks at the coronary arteries to show any areas of narrowing which could be causing the angina.
Some useful info here. Sorry it's such a long post!
if you haven't already found it

exexpat Wed 04-Nov-09 23:10:13

My FIL (70s) has had angina for years and still leads a very busy life, travels (planning a trip to Canada at the moment) and does all sorts of stuff. So it definitely doesn't mean your father has to wave goodbye to everything he wants to do.

But - it has to be managed and taken seriously, as it does increase the risk of heart attack. My DH died of a sudden cardiac arrest, and I suspect he may have had undiagnosed (and therefore untreated) angina (his doctor said he was "too young" for angina).

OrmIrian Thu 05-Nov-09 07:52:29

Thanks. It will reassure him to know that. He is very scared atm but he has so rarely been ill before.

So sorry to hear about your DH exexpat sad

saggarmakersbottomknocker Thu 05-Nov-09 09:07:36

Sorry about your dad Orm.

Stan knows her stuff. Hopefully once your dad has his appointment he'll get some confidence back. My dd has exertional angina; it's definitely worse in very cold weather. She's always had it though so knows her limits and I think that is key really; finding out how much you can do and learning when to stop. I wonder if you dad is panicking a little though because it is a big thing to hear isn't it? Hope he doesn't have to wait too long for his appointment.

OrmIrian Thu 05-Nov-09 09:17:41

Thanks saggar - yes he is panicking. All the things he was saying sounded like the sort of panic attacks I get sometimes but then of course he worries that it's another angina attack.

Ohhh I hope it's soon too. For mum's sake apart from anything else - she has really bad arthritis and is having to do everything atm.

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