What is Angina?

Angina is a type of chest pain that can occur when the heart is not receiving enough blood flow to meet the demand of the body. The pain is often described as pressure, tightness, or a squeezing sensation. Angina is a common symptom of coronary artery disease, which is the narrowing of the coronary arteries. Narrowing of the arteries can occur due to the following reasons:

  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Blood clot
  • Unstable plaque in an artery
  • Poor blood flow through a heart valve

Stable and unstable are the two most common forms of angina. Common symptoms of stable angina include:

  • Pain or discomfort occurs when exercising
  • Pain or discomfort that only lasts for a few minutes
  • The pain disappears with rest or medication

Unstable angina is a medical emergency and may be a warning sign of a heart attack.

  • Pain or discomfort at rest
  • Unexpected chest pain
  • The pain may last longer than 30 minutes
  • Pain is usually more severe than pain caused by stable angina

Angina can often be prevented by eating a heart healthy diet, living an active lifestyle, and not smoking. Treating conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes can also help prevent angina and coronary artery disease.


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