Angina (also called ischemic chest pain or angina pectoris) is characterized by a squeezing sensation, tightness, or chest pain that intensifies when you walk or, climb a flight of stairs or perform any mildly strenuous activity. It is caused by narrow or cholesterol-clogged arteries that limit adequate blood flow to the heart. Angina is usually not life-threatening, but it puts you at an increased risk of developing a stroke or heart attack.
Stable angina and unstable angina are the two main types of angina . Pain from stable angina is more predictable, typically lasts under five minutes, and happens when you perform an activity that stresses your heart. It disappears when you rest or use medication. Unstable angina occurs even at rest and may last longer than 30 minutes. The pain can deviate from your usual pattern and may not disappear even after you’ve used medication. A third type called variant or Prinzmetal’s angina arises due to spasms in the coronary artery and causes severe pain. It usually occurs in clusters while at rest.
Chest pain or discomfort from angina is incredibly common in all types and may sometimes radiate to the back of the shoulder, arm, or lower jaw. Other symptoms that may follow include fatigue, shortness of breath, and dizziness. You should see a doctor if you have any of these symptoms for a proper diagnosis.
Treatment of angina might vary depending on a variety of factors, but it mostly includes a combination of lifestyle changes and medical medications. This article discusses the available treatments.