FAQ Level 3 Award for First Responders on Scene: Emergency First Responder (RQF) FROS® - Online Blended Part 1

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Stable angina

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Understanding Stable Angina: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Common Issue in the UK

Stable Angina is a prevalent concern in the UK, primarily due to the high incidence of coronary heart disease and the lifestyle factors affecting the population's health.

Arterial Buildup Resembling Limescale

Stable Angina arises when the coronary arteries, responsible for supplying blood to the heart muscle, begin to accumulate deposits, akin to the buildup of limescale in plumbing pipes. This buildup consists of plaque and dietary fats that gradually accumulate on the inner walls of the coronary arteries, causing a narrowing of the artery's lumen.

Increased Blood Pressure and Age-Related Progression

The narrowing of the coronary arteries results in elevated blood pressure within these vessels. Physicians routinely measure blood pressure, especially in individuals over the age of 40, to monitor trends indicative of arterial inflammation and increased blood pressure. Unfortunately, once plaque buildup commences, it is irreversible and tends to worsen over time, particularly in individuals with unhealthy habits such as poor diet, smoking, and insufficient physical activity.

Angina Triggers and Symptoms

During physical exertion or situations that demand increased oxygen delivery, like climbing uphill, the heart beats faster to supply the required oxygen. However, the narrowed arteries hinder the adequate flow of blood, resulting in oxygen deprivation and subsequent muscle cramping, leading to angina pain. This pain typically manifests in the chest and is challenging to distinguish from a heart attack. It's essential to note that while angina, heart attacks, and cardiac arrest share some connections, they represent distinct medical conditions. In this context, we focus on stable angina, named so because its triggers and alleviating factors are well-understood.

Treatment with GTN (Glycerol Trinitrate)

A commonly prescribed medication for stable angina is GTN, glycerol trinitrate, usually available in a red bottle with a metered spray or as tablets for sublingual administration. GTN works by dilating blood vessels, enhancing blood flow to the heart muscles, and relieving pain. However, it may lead to side effects, such as intense headaches and blood pressure drops, which can cause fainting if overdosed. Consequently, GTN should be used cautiously under medical guidance to monitor and mitigate potential side effects.

Learning Outcomes:
  • IPOSi Unit four LO3.1, 3.2 & 3.3