Angina or chest pain is more of a symptom than a condition. It is indicative of an underlying cardiovascular and heart disease like coronary artery disease. Angina or angina pectoris may or may not be a medical emergency. It depends upon the exact cause of the pain.
What is angina?Angina is chest pain accompanied by discomfort. People who experience angina describe their pain as:
- Crushing pain
- Pressure sensation and heaviness in the chest area
- Radiating pain that spreads towards the neck, jaw, or back
Types of anginaThere are different types of angina depending upon the underlying cause of the chest pain. A person experiences angina when the heart muscles do not get adequate oxygenated blood. This happens when the coronary arteries (arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart) are blocked or get narrow.The types of angina include:
- Stable angina
- Unstable angina
- Variant angina (Prinzmetal’s angina)
- Microvascular angina
Stable anginaStable angina is a chest pain that occurs when there is physical exertion with exercise or there is severe emotional distress. This type of angina or chest pain goes away with rest. Though this kind of angina is not a medical emergency, it needs medical attention and has to be treated. If left untreated, it can lead to sudden heart attack. Stable angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease.
Stable angina symptoms
- Chest pain after physical exertion
- Pain lasts for not more than 5 minutes
- Pain that disappears with rest or medication
- Stable angina feels like having gastric problems or indigestion
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
Unstable AnginaThis kind of chest pain is associated with a heart attack. This kind of angina can occur while one is physically active or even at rest. Unstable angina starts suddenly and gets worse. This condition needs immediate medical attention and one has to be rushed to a hospital.Delay in providing medical attention can lead to permanent damage to the muscles of the heart. This can turn fatal.
Unstable angina symptoms
- Pain and pressure sensation in the chest
- Pain that radiates to the neck, jaw, back, and shoulders
- Extreme sweating
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden and extreme weakness
- Prevention of hypertension or controlling high blood pressure
- Get normal cholesterol levels
- Improve blood glucose control
- Reach target HbA1c
- Reduce weight
- Stay physically active
Variant AnginaThis type of chest pain is unlike other kinds of angina. It generally occurs during rest especially during midnights and early mornings. Variant angina is more common among younger people and are characterized by severe pain. However, this kind of angina pain is reduced with medication.
Microvascular anginaThis type of chest pain occurs when there is a microvascular disease of the heart. This heart disease is called coronary microvascular disease. In this condition, the small arteries of the heart have reduced blood flow. Chest pain in this condition is different from other types of angina. Pain often lasts for more than 10 minutes up to 30 minutes.
Microvascular angina symptoms
- Chest pain that lasts longer than other types of angina
- Pain might occur along with other symptoms like shortness of breath, fatigue
- Is noticed in times of mental stress and during physical activities