Angina also called angina pectoris, is often described as squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightness or pain in your chest. Some people with angina symptoms say angina feels like a vise squeezing their chest or a heavy weight lying on their chest. Angina may be a new pain that needs to be checked by a doctor, or recurring pain that goes away with treatment.
Although angina is relatively common, it can still be hard to distinguish from other types of chest pain, such as the discomfort of indigestion. If you have unexplained chest pain, seek medical attention right away.
What is angina pectoris?
Angina is chest pain that happens because there isn’t enough blood going to part of your heart. It can feel like a heart attack, with pressure or squeezing in your chest. It’s sometimes called angina pectoris or ischemic chest pain.
It’s a symptom of heart disease, and it happens when something blocks your arteries or there’s not enough blood flow in the arteries that bring oxygen-rich blood to your heart.
Angina usually goes away quickly. Still, it can be a sign of a life-threatening heart problem. It’s important to find out what’s going on and what you can do to avoid a heart attack.
What is angina pectoris caused by?
Angina pectoris occurs when your heart muscle (myocardium) does not get enough blood and oxygen. Not enough blood supply is called ischemia.
Angina can be a symptom of coronary artery disease (CAD). This is when arteries that carry blood to your heart become narrowed and blocked. This can happen because of:
Hardening of arteries (atherosclerosis)
A blood clot
Plaque in an artery that can rupture (unstable plaque)
Poor blood flow through a narrowed heart valve
Lessened pumping of the heart muscle
Coronary artery spasm.
There are 2 other forms of angina pectoris. They are:
Microvascular angina. This used to be called Syndrome X. It causes chest pain with no coronary artery blockage. The pain is caused by from poor function of tiny blood vessels that lead to the heart, arms, and legs. It is more common in women.
Variant angina pectoris. This is also called Prinzmetal’s angina. It is rare. It occurs almost only at rest, not after exercise or stress. It usually occurs between midnight and 8 a.m. It can be very painful. It is related to the spasm of the artery. It is also more common in women.
What are the Symptoms of angina pectoris?
These are the most common symptoms of angina:
A pressing, squeezing or crushing pain, usually in the chest under your breastbone
Pain may also occur in your upper back, both arms, neck, or ear lobes
Pain radiating in your arms, shoulders, jaw, neck, or back
Shortness of breath
Weakness and fatigue
Angina chest pain is usually relieved within a few minutes by resting or by taking prescribed cardiac medicine, such as nitroglycerin.
An episode of angina means some part of the heart is not getting enough blood supply. If you have angina, you have an increased risk for a heart attack.
Treatment for angina pectoris :
People with angina pectoris or sometimes referred to as stable angina have episodes of chest pain. The discomfort that are usually predictable and manageable. You might experience it while running or if you’re dealing with stress.
Normally this type of chest discomfort is relieved with rest, nitroglycerin or both. Nitroglycerin relaxes the coronary arteries and other blood vessels, reducing the amount of blood that returns to the heart and easing the heart’s workload. By relaxing the coronary arteries, it increases the heart’s blood supply.
If you experience chest discomfort, be sure and visit your doctor for a complete evaluation and, possibly, tests. If you have stable angina and start getting chest pain more easily and more often, see your doctor immediately as you may be experiencing early signs of unstable angina.