What is angina?

Angina pectoris is the medical term for pain or other discomfort in the chest that is due to coronary heart disease. The chest pain or discomfort associated with angina occurs when an area of the heart muscle does not receive enough oxygen-rich blood.

Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease in adults. As such, angina is a common cardiovascular condition in the United States. Approximately 10.2 million adults in the United States have angina. Each year, there are 500,000 new cases of angina in the United States (Source: AHA).

Angina develops due to coronary heart disease and an underlying heart problem called myocardial ischemia. This occurs when one or more of the heart’s coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle, is narrowed or blocked. Angina also can occur in people with diseases of the heart valves, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart), or uncontrolled high blood pressure.

The most common signs and symptoms of angina are pressure or squeezing in the chest. The pain may also occur in the arms, shoulders, jaw, neck or back. Angina pain may even feel like indigestion. It’s important to be aware that women with angina more often report unexpected ‘extracardiac’ symptoms like nausea and right-sided chest discomfort.

Left untreated, angina may lead to severe heart damage. Severe heart damage can result in shock and heart attack and can be life threatening. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as chest pain or pressure, sweating, and difficulty breathing, which may be combined with pale or bluish lips and fast heart rate (tachycardia).


What are the symptoms of angina?

Lack of blood flow resulting in lack of oxygen supply to the heart causes the symptoms of angina. The symptoms can vary in intensity among individuals.

Common symptoms of angina

The most common symptoms of angina are related to disturbances in the circulation to the heart muscle and include:


What causes angina?

Angina is caused by a lack of blood flow to the coronary arteries. These arteries carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart. The diminished blood flow is caused by plaque that narrows and stiffens the coronary arteries in the process known as atherosclerosis, sometimes called hardening of the arteries. Angina occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle is reduced, causing chest pai... Read more about anginacauses


How is angina treated?

Treatment for angina begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. To determine if you have angina, your health care provider will ask you to undergo several diagnostic tests.

Angina treatment varies depending upon the severity of symptoms and potential risk to the individual. Drug therapy is the most commonly used treatment for stable angina and may include dru... Read more about anginatreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

Your Guide to Angina

This Article is Filed Under: Angina, Heart Disease, Heart, Blood and Circulation

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