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Angina

Chest Pain Caused by Coronary Artery Disease

Angina is chest pain caused by coronary artery disease (CAD).

  • This chest pain comes and goes.
  • It usually lasts for about 10 minutes or less.
  • It may feel like pressure or a squeezing pain in your chest.
  • It can sometimes be mistaken for indigestion.
  • You may also feel it in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw or back.
  • Angina pain can be triggered by exercise, stress, cold weather or eating a large meal.
  • The pain tends to get worse with activity and stop when you rest.
Typical Angina Pain Areas

Symptom of Myocardial Ischemia

Angina is not really a condition; it is a symptom of another condition called myocardial ischemia, which occurs when the heart does not get as much blood as it needs.

Typically myocardial ischemia occurs when the arteries supplying the heart with blood become blocked or narrowed in a condition called coronary artery disease (CAD).

Coronary Artery Disease

Artery blockage is most commonly caused by buildup of fat and cholesterol known as plaque. When arteries become clogged with plaque, it is known as known as atherosclerosis.

Three Types of Angina

There are three types of angina:stable, unstable and variant.

Stable Angina

Stable angina is the most common type, occurring when the heart is working harder than normal. Stable angina has a regular pattern. If you know you have it, you can figure out how to recognize the pattern and know in advance when the pain is going to come. The pain typically goes away in a few minutes after you rest or take your angina medicine. Stable angina isn't a heart attack, but it indicates that a heart attack is more likely in the future.

Unstable Angina

Unstable angina has no pattern. It can take place with or without physical exertion and cannot be relieved by resting or taking medicine. Unstable angina is extremely dangerous and requires emergency treatment. It is a predictor of an imminent heart attack.

Variant Angina

Also known as Prinzmetal's angina, variant angina is fairly rare and tends to affect younger people than do the other two kinds of angina. It usually occurs while you're at rest. The pain, which can be severe, usually occurs between midnight and early morning and can be relieved by medicine. It is caused by a spasm in the artery wall rather than atherosclerosis. The spasm causes the vessel to narrow temporarily.