Angina is a type of chest pain caused by the reduced flow of blood to the heart. It is generally caused by plaque buildup on the arteries and is typically felt as pressure, heaviness, tightness, or pain in your chest. The pain can also occur in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back.
Angina is usually a symptom of coronary heart disease; medicine and lifestyle changes can usually control it. A stent may also be needed to open up arteries so the heart gets the blood it needs.
Knowing the different types is important because they each have different symptoms and require different treatments. All chest pain should be checked out by a medical professional. Your doctor will examine you and ask questions about what you’ve been experiencing, as well as questions about your family history. They may also ask for tests to help them determine what you have and the best course of action for treatment.
Stable angina is the most common type and it occurs when the heart is working harder than usual. Stable angina has a regular pattern. The pattern refers to how often the angina occurs, how severe it is, and what factors trigger it.
With stable angina, you can learn its pattern and predict when the pain will occur. The pain usually goes away after a few minutes of rest or take your medication to treat it. Physical activity or stress can often trigger it. While it isn’t a heart attack, it suggests 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 is very dangerous and requires emergency treatment and is a sign that a heart attack may happen soon.
Variant (Prinzmetal’s) Angina is rare and is caused by a spasm in a coronary artery. Variant angina usually occurs while you’re at rest, and the pain can be severe. It usually happens between midnight and early morning. Medicine can relieve this type of angina.
Microvascular Angina can be more severe and last longer than other types of angina. Medicine may not relieve this type of angina.