Coronary atherosclerosis manifests itself in coronary heart disease.
Due to narrowing of the coronary arteries perfusion and oxygen supply of the cardiac muscles are reduced (myocardial ischemia).
The progression of coronary sclerosis is asymptomatic for rather a long period of time.
Angina pectoris (breast pang) only occurs with a higher degree of stenosis and under physical and psychic strain. Increasing stenosis results in unstable angina pectoris with a smooth transition to myocardial infarction.
Acute coronary syndrome is a collective term for angina pectoris symptoms in connection with ECG changes indicative of myocardial ischemia.
These symptoms range from unstable angina to an acute infarction. However, this differentiation is not necessary for the initial treatment of a patient whose medical history and complaints are indicative of acute coronary syndrome.
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Risk factors of atherosclerosis include:
- Lipid metabolism disorders
- Diabetes mellitus
- Chest pain, narrowing sensation in the chest, retrosternal pressure (stenocardia)
The imbalance between supply of and demand for myocardial oxygen lead to local myocardial ischemia resulting in chest pain once a certain extent is reached.
In angina pectoris, myocardial ischemia is reversible without subsequent necrosis.
The location of pain may vary:
- Primarily behind the sternum (retrosternal)
- Radiating to the left arm, right arm, neck, mandible, shoulder, finger tips
- Short duration, usually < 5 minutes
Angina pectoris can be stable, i.e. it may be provoked by certain exertion and is then relieved by nitroglycerin.
The following situations are referred to as unstable angina pectoris:
- Any first manifestation of angina
- Angina with the slightest exertion
- Angina at rest
- Angina of increasing duration, severity and frequency
- Increasing amounts of anti-angina medication are required
|The guiding symptom of CHD is angina pectoris
Physical or psychic stress, i.e. pain, can result in an increased myocardial oxygen demand.
- Angina pectoris attack as a result of this stress
- Risk of myocardial infarction
- Increased frequency and severity of angina pectoris attacks
- Duration of pain > 5 minutes
- Nausea, pale skin, sweating
|It is not possible to clinically differentiate between an angina pectoris attack and myocardial infarction.
If ischemia leads to focal necrosis of the myocardium, this is referred to as myocardial infarction.