Angina is a condition that signals the heart is not receiving an adequate supply of blood. It is a condition that occurs all of a sudden, and it has a number of painful symptoms. Symptoms should not be ignored.
Although it can feel like a burning sensation or pressure or tightness in the area of the chest, the exact area of the pain can be hard to pinpoint since arm, shoulder, neck, jaw, throat, or back pain can be present. Other symptoms include indigestion, lethargy, difficulty breathing, profuse sweating or feeling faint.
Types and Causes
There are four types of angina. The causes of each type differ in some way.
1. Stable angina can occur when there is an increase in the heart rate and a need for additional oxygen. This type of angina is usually caused by exercise. Mental stress, excessive eating, and cigarettes can also bring on stable angina. Being in an extremely hot or an extremely cold environment can cause stable angina too.
2. Unstable angina occurs when blood clots are present in the arteries. The clots can be small enough to allow some blood to flow through the arteries, but large clots can cut off blood flow completely. When this happens, a heart attach can occur.
3. Variant angina is caused when a coronary artery contracts abnormally and slows down or cuts off the delivery of blood to the heart. This can happen in times of mental stress, or from being in a cold environment. Drugs that constrict blood vessels can cause variant angina. So can cocaine.
4. Microvascular angina can occur when there is a decreased flow of blood in small heart arteries. A diminished blood flow in these arteries can result when the inside walls of these arteries are impaired or when the arteries contract abnormally. Plaque can also cause microvascular angina.
Although someone with unstable angina will need to go to a hospital for treatment because of the seriousness of this type of angina, angina that is less severe and shows no signs of progression may only require medication and an adjustment in lifestyle. Rehabilitation designed to improve the condition of the heart may be necessary if an adjustment in lifestyle and medication does not help. Angioplasty and coronary artery bypass grafting may also be required.
nhlbi.nih.gov: What Is Angina?
nhlbi.nih.gov: How Is Angina Treated?