Cardiology Terminology: Airport Angina

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Angina
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

More people vacation during the summer months than at any other time of year. And the topic of “airport angina”—an old cardiology phrase—may be getting tossed around now more than usual. But what, exactly, does it mean?

Essentially, “airport angina” is a phrase coined to describe heart symptoms of ischemia (lack of oxygen to the heart) that are provoked by hauling and lifting luggage. And getting angina when you’re far from home is always an unsettling experience.

Of course, we all know that there’s more to traveling than lugging luggage, regardless of your mode of transportation. But airports are fraught with a few more built-in stressors than other forms of travel, including:

  • scheduling and weather concerns;
  • airport security;
  • flight delays;
  • cancelled flights and rerouting;
  • tight connections and time urgency;
  • dread about lost luggage; and so on.

So, the psychological stress combined with the isometric physical work of carrying your bags is sort of “like being in double handcuffs,” as Dr. Sinatra would say.

And, let’s face it, all traveling and vacationing has the potential for some family and other unpredictable stressors, in addition to the physical exertion of lifting bags onto “trains, planes, and automobiles.”

Dr. Sinatra will be addressing the topic of safe air travel for cardiac patients in an upcoming issue of Heart, Health, and Nutrition. And in a few days, I’ll post another blog on how heart patients can manage their luggage from a physical exertion standpoint. So, stay tuned!

For more information on angina and other cardiovascular problems, visit Dr. Sinatra’s Web site.

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