Angina is pain or discomfort in the chest. It often has a squeezing or pressure-like feel. This discomfort can also be felt in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaws, or back. Anginal pain usually lasts for no more than 2 to 10 minutes.
Types of angina include:
Stable angina —Has a predictable pattern. You generally know what brings it on and what relieves it. You may also know what the intensity will be.
Unstable angina —Is more unpredictable and/or severe. Chest pain may occur while resting or sleeping. The discomfort may last longer and be more intense than that of stable angina.
Unstable angina may be a sign that you are about to have a
Call for emergency medical services right away.
Variant or Prinzmetal angina —Caused by temporary spasm of coronary arteries. Occurs when you are at rest, most often in the middle of the night. It can be quite severe.
Angina is usually a sign of
coronary artery disease
(CAD). It occurs when the blood vessels leading to your heart are narrowed or blocked. The blockage decreases the blood and oxygen flow to your heart. When your heart is deprived of oxygen, you will feel chest pain and other symptoms.
Stable or Unstable Angina
Angina occurs when your heart's need for blood and oxygen is increased by:
Exercise or exertion
A large meal
Stable angina becomes unstable when symptoms:
Occur more often
Are triggered more easily
Variant or Prinzmetal Angina
This type of angina is usually caused by a spasm of a heart vessel. It may be a sign that you have one of the following conditions:
Chest pain or discomfort is the key symptom of angina
Some people do not experience the pain as severely
Elderly people, women, and people with diabetes are more likely to have subtle symptoms and pain outside of the typical areas
Some people have silent ischemia (lack of blood supply to the heart) and experience no symptoms of chest pain
The likelihood of a
when chest discomfort is severe, lasts more than 15 minutes, and is accompanied by other symptoms, such as:
Pain in the shoulder(s) or arm(s), or into the jaw(s)
Shortness of breath
Tests will be done right away to see if you are having an episode of angina or a heart attack. For stable patterns of angina, other tests may be done to determine the extent of your disease. The test results will help to create a treatment plan.
Images may be taken of your heart. This can be done with:
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