Angina

(Unstable Angina; Stable Angina; Angina Pectoris; Cardiac Angina; Variant Angina)

Animation Movie AvailableUnderstanding Angina Pectoris

Definition

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 2-10 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 heart attack . It should be treated as an emergency.
  • Variant or Prinzmetal's 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.
Typical Angina Pain Areas
IMAGE
Women are more likely to experience pain outside of these areas.
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Causes

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.
Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary Artery plaque
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Stable or Unstable Angina

Angina occurs when your heart's need for blood and oxygen is increased by:
  • Exercise or exertion
  • Cold weather
  • A large meal
  • Emotional stress
Stable angina becomes unstable when symptoms:
  • Occur more often
  • Last longer
  • Are triggered more easily

Variant or Prinzmetal's 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: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:

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