Reduced blood flow to heart muscles causes chest pain called as angina pectoris. Angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease. A person may feel pain when insufficient oxygen-rich blood reaches the heart muscle. This reduced blood flow is caused by coronary artery disease. In coronary artery disease, there is an accumulation of plaque inside the coronary blood vessels. The pain associated with angina is typically described as squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightness or pain in your chest. A common presentation as told by most patients is the feeling that ‘someone is standing on their chest’. The usual site of pain in angina is chest, but may also be felt in the shoulders, arms, neck, throat, jaw, or back.
Anginapectoriscan be a recurring problem or a sudden, acute health issue. Although angina is common, it can be hard to distinguish from other types of chest pain. Most common confounding factor is pain or discomfort of indigestion. Seek medical attention immediately if you have unexplained chest pain.
Angina can be of the following three types:
- Stable angina.In this type of angina, the pain is predictable and presents only during exertion or extreme emotional distress. It generally disappears with rest.
- Unstable angina.This type of angina could be an indication of a heart attack. Unstable angina is angina pain that is different from your regular angina pain or pain that occurs while at rest. The characteristic feature of this type of angina is that it may occur more frequently, more easily at rest, feel more severe, last longer, or come on with minimal activity. In most cases, this type of angina gets relieved with medication. But, it is unstable and may progress to a heart attack. Intensive medical or surgical treatment or a procedure is required for relief.
- Prinzmetal’s angina.Angina occuring at rest is called Prinzmetal’s angina. This may occur at rest, when sleeping, or when exposed to cold temperatures. The cause is mostly decreased blood flow to the heart muscle from a spasm of the coronary artery. This type of angina in most people is associated with coronary artery disease. These spasms occur close to the blockage.