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Sleep Angina: Understanding Nocturnal Chest Pain and Heart Health

Encountering chest discomfort while slumbering or at rest could be symptomatic of sleep angina, otherwise known as nocturnal angina. This disquieting sensation warrants attention, as it may reveal the presence of a cardiac issue or even serve as a harbinger of a looming heart attack.

What Causes Sleep Angina?

Sleep angina is primarily caused by an underlying heart condition, with the most common culprit being coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart become narrowed or blocked, typically due to the buildup of fatty deposits called plaques.

During sleep, the body’s oxygen demands decrease, leading to a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure. However, in individuals with CAD, the narrowed or blocked arteries restrict the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle, particularly during periods of reduced demand. This imbalance in blood supply and demand can trigger chest pain or discomfort during sleep, giving rise to sleep angina.

Other factors that can contribute to the development of sleep angina include:

Symptoms of Sleep Angina

The primary symptom of sleep angina is chest pain or discomfort that occurs during sleep or while resting. The pain is typically described as a pressure or tightness in the chest, which may radiate to the arms, jaw, neck, or back. The intensity and duration of the pain can vary from person to person.

In addition to chest pain, individuals with sleep angina may experience other symptoms, such as:

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing sleep angina involves a comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare provider. Your doctor will review your medical history, conduct a physical examination, and order diagnostic tests to assess your heart health.

The tests commonly used to diagnose sleep angina and underlying heart conditions include:

Treatment for sleep angina aims to manage symptoms, improve heart health, and reduce the risk of complications. The specific treatment plan will depend on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Common treatment approaches include:

It is essential to follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations and attend regular check-ups to monitor your heart health and adjust the treatment plan as needed.

Sleep angina, or nocturnal angina, is a concerning symptom that warrants prompt medical attention. It is often a manifestation of underlying heart conditions, such as coronary artery disease. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and available treatment options for sleep angina, individuals can take proactive steps to protect their heart health and improve their overall well-being. If you experience chest pain or any other symptoms suggestive of sleep angina, reach out to your healthcare provider for a thorough evaluation and appropriate management.