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Angina pectoris - also known as angina - is chest pain that is caused by a lack of oxygen-rich blood flow to the heart. Angina is not a condition, instead, it is a symptom of coronary artery disease or clogged blood vessels that go to and from the heart. Angina is common, but hard to differentiate from other types of chest pain (such as indigestion). Common symptoms of angina include:
- Pressure, tightness, or pain in the chest
- Pain in arms, neck, shoulders, or back
- Shortness of breath
- Excessive sweating
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
Think of angina as a “Check Engine” light for your heart health. Angina is a common warning sign of coronary artery disease, a condition that can be life-threatening. The symptoms of angina commonly occur after physical exertion, such as walking up a flight of stairs, and subside shortly after the activity is over.
Nearly 500,000 people experience angina in a given year. Common risk factors of angina include:
- Tobacco use
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- High cholesterol
- Medical history of heart disease
If you are experiencing sudden chest pain or chest tightness, call 9-1-1 immediately.
If you have experienced mild symptoms of angina for some time, talk to a health care provider right away. If left untreated, angina can lead to potentially fatal heart attacks.
There are several methods for treating the heart condition causing angina including medication, lifestyle changes, and medical procedures. Surgery is usually reserved for severe and potentially lethal heart disease. If your doctor recommends surgery to treat your heart condition, talk about the different types of medical procedures that may help.
In many cases, the heart condition causing angina can be treated with medication and lifestyle changes. During your appointment, talk to your provider about the treatment plan that’s right for you.