Acute Relief When You Need It. Preventive Action Before You Do.
What Is Angina?1
Angina (an-JI-nuh or AN-juh-nuh) is chest pain or chest discomfort that occurs if an area of your heart muscle doesn't get enough oxygen-rich blood. Chest discomfort associated with angina may feel like pressure or squeezing in your chest.
Angina pain doesn’t occur just in the chest, however. The pain also can occur in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. Angina pain may even feel like indigestion. It’s important to remember that angina isn't a disease. Instead, it's a symptom of an underlying heart problem, usually coronary heart disease (CHD).
Coronary Heart Disease is the most common type of heart disease in adults, and occurs if a waxy substance called plaque builds up on the inner walls of the coronary arteries. These arteries carry oxygen-rich blood to your heart.
Types of Angina
Stable angina is the most common type of angina. It occurs when the heart is working harder than usual. Stable angina has a regular pattern (how often the angina occurs, how severe the angina is, and what factors trigger it.) If you have stable angina, you may learn its pattern and predict when the pain will occur. The chest pain associated with stable angina usually goes away a few minutes after you rest or take angina medicine. Stable angina isn't the same thing as a heart attack, but it does suggest that a heart attack is more likely to happen in the future.
Unstable angina doesn't follow a pattern. It may occur more often and be more severe than stable angina.
Unstable angina also can occur with or without physical exertion, and rest or medicine may not relieve the pain. Unstable angina may be dangerous and require emergency treatment. This type of angina is a sign that a heart attack may happen soon.
1. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Health Topics, Angina: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/angina/; accessed on 10/10/11.