By knowing the angina facts, you can better manage -- and even prevent -- the condition from occurring. Angina is characterized by chest pain, and the condition is divided into three different forms: stable, unstable, and variant angina. Since all three types of angina may have different symptoms, precautions, and treatment options, it is important to read up on various angina facts to fully understand this condition.
The following angina facts provide an overview of the condition:
- Angina is chest pain or discomfort that occurs when your heart muscle does not get enough blood for a short period of time. Angina may feel like pressure or a squeezing pain in your chest. The pain may also occur in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back.
- Most people with angina have coronary artery disease, with narrowed arteries due to atherosclerosis. When arteries are narrowed, blood flow to the heart is reduced.
- More than 6 million people in the United States have angina.
The following angina facts explain the different forms the condition can take:
- The most common types of angina are stable angina and unstable angina. A less common type of angina is called variant angina (or Prinzmetal's angina).
- Stable angina is chest pain or discomfort that occurs when the heart is working harder than usual. Pain from stable angina goes away when you rest or take your angina medicine. Angina medicine, such as nitroglycerin, helps widen and relax the arteries so that more blood can flow to the heart.
- Unstable angina is a dangerous condition that requires emergency treatment. It is a sign that a heart attack could occur soon. Unstable angina can occur without physical exertion, and is not relieved by rest or medicine.
- Variant angina is caused by a spasm in a coronary artery, which causes the walls of the artery to tighten. This narrowing of the artery slows or stops blood flow to the heart.