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What Is Angina?

Angina pectoris is a condition that occurs when there is a temporary reduced supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. The condition is typically caused by blockage from one or more of the coronary arteries, which reduces blood flow to the heart. The primary symptom is discomfort or pain in or around the chest, shoulders, jaw, neck, back, or arms.

Understanding Angina

Angina, or angina pectoris, refers to symptoms such as chest pain or discomfort caused by reduced blood flow to the heart. More than 6 million people in the United States have this condition.
 
There are three types of angina -- stable angina, unstable angina and variant angina (also known as Prinzmetal's angina). The most common types are stable angina and unstable angina. Variant angina is rare.
 

What Causes It?

The heart is a muscle that gets blood from vessels called the coronary arteries. If one or more of your coronary arteries has a blockage that reduces blood flow to your heart muscle from time to time, you may experience angina. This is your heart's way of saying that it needs more oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to work properly.
 
Narrowed and blocked arteries are usually from coronary artery disease, which occurs because of a gradual buildup of fatty deposits inside the arteries called plaque. This process is called atherosclerosis.
 
Sometimes, other types of heart disease (such as aortic stenosis) or uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause angina. There are also a number of factors that can trigger an attack.
 

What Are the Symptoms?

People with angina usually feel discomfort (often a pressure-like pain) in or around the:
 
  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Jaw
  • Neck
  • Back
  • Arms.
 
It may feel like a squeezing, pressing sensation in the chest. This pain is usually caused and made worse by exercise and eased by rest.
 
Not all chest discomfort is angina. Other conditions that can cause similar symptoms include:
 
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Description of Angina

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