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Science
CHECK UP
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PROGRAMME INFO
Thursday 15:00-15:30
Check Up is your chance to talk to doctors about the health issues that most concern you and your family. Each week Barbara Myers is joined by a medical expert to take your calls and emails on a particular topic and give you the most up to date advice. No appointment necessary.
Call 0870 010 0444
checkup@bbc.co.uk
LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 9 September
PRESENTER
BARBARA MYERS
Barbara Myers
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Thursday 9 September 2004
Heart

Full programme transcript >>

Angina


The pain of angina is caused by a lack of oxygen in the blood-flow to the heart - caused by a blockage in the blood vessels . The pain can be like a cramp and can be recurring. For some it is a dull, persistant ache. It can spread to the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, the back and the stomach.

Triggers

Angina is often triggered by over-exertion and can be alleviated quickly by rest or medication. Other triggers include emotional stress, over-eating, alcohol, smoking and extremes of temperature.

Diagnosis
Your GP may be able to tell if you have angina by listening to your heart - but you may be sent for other tests. An ECG - electrocardiogram - can provide a lot of valuable information about the heart and its vessels. A fine, flexible tube may be inserted into the coronary arteries via your arm or groin in a test known as a coronary angiogram. It's not painful as a local anaesthetic is given first. The test allows doctors to take pictures of the blocked blood vessels, giving a clear picture of how severe the problem is. A decision can then be taken on what kind of treatment is suitable.

Angioplasty
If there is narrowing in an artery, you may be recommended to undergo coronary angioplasty - where a tiny inflatable balloon is used to literally squash the fatty deposits, widening the vessel. A short tube of stainless steel - or stent (which may be coated with special drugs) - expands at the same time as the balloon, and is left in place to reduce the risk of the blockage recurring. This procedure usually means an overnight stay in hospital.  Coronary angioplasty is usually successful - but if it fails then immediate surgery is needed.

Coronary Heart Disease
Angina indicates that a person has Coronary Heart Disease or CHD. Of the 2 million in Britain who already have CHD, around 20,000 more are diagnosed with angina every year. 

Not fatal
Angina is not a heart attack and it is not fatal but it does need attention. Changes in lifestyle are needed to reduce your risk of having a heart attack - like a healthy diet and suitable exercise. It is important to go to your doctor if you have had an angina attack, so that you can get the right advice. 

Get in touch with Barbara Myers who will put your calls to Simon Davies of the Royal Brompton Hospital  in London.

Contact the Programme
If you have a question, contact us by calling 0870 010 0444 from 1.30pm - 3.30pm on the day of broadcast or by emailing checkup@bbc.co.uk
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