What is Angina?

Angina is a medical condition that affects the cardiovascular system, namely the heart. It occurs when there is not enough blood flow to the heart.

Specifically, angina is related to the oxygen in the blood. If there is not enough oxygen going to the heart, it cannot pump and function as well as it should and will affect a person’s heart health and overall sense of well-being.

Types of angina

There are three different types of angina that a person may suffer from. Stable angina is chest a form of angina that occurs when a person is working their heart more than they normally would. This can include intense exercise or other stressful situations. When a person suffers from stable angina, it has a regular and predictable pattern. Unstable angina, on the other hand, has no predictable pattern and can occur even without physical exertion. This makes unstable angina very dangerous. The third type of angina is referred to as variant angina and happens when a person is at rest.

Angina is a condition that is associated with coronary artery disease (CAD) which is a form of heart disease. When a person suffers from coronary artery disease, it means that there are plaque buildups in their arteries that cause the passageways to narrow. This means that less blood can flow through those arteries, contributing to angina.


What are the Symptoms of Angina?

Most common symptoms

The most common sign or symptom of angina is chest pain and discomfort. It can be experienced as pressure on the chest.

Other symptoms

A person may also experience pain in their neck, arms, and shoulder and because of this may be confused with signs of a heart attack. Nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, and sweating are also common symptoms of angina.

Angina Causes

The most common reason for angina is coronary artery disease, which occurs when your arteries are narrowed by fatty deposits called plaques. The pain of angina occurs because of reduced blood flow to the heart.

Angina typically occurs after physical exertion, when your heart’s demand for oxygen increases, although other conditions may trigger an episode, such as stress, extreme temperatures, big meals, and smoking.

Because coronary artery disease is the most common cause of angina, we must pay attention to the factors that affect our risk of contracting the disease.

Factors which affect risk of contraction include:

  • History of heart disease
  • High cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides
  • High blood pressure
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Men aged 45 and older and women aged 55 and older
  • A family history of heart disease

How is Angina Treated?


Lifestyle changes are usually recommended as treatment for angina. This can include weight loss, eating a healthier diet, and stopping alcohol consumption or tobacco use.


Sometimes, medications are also necessary to help manage angina. This can be done by taking daily aspirin or possibly nitrates or other prescriptions.


If a person’s angina is severe and/or their coronary artery disease is advanced, they may require an angioplasty, stent procedure, or coronary artery bypass surgery may be necessary as well.

Angina Prevention

While hormones protect women from heart disease and help them live on average a decade longer than men, gender doesn’t offer a free pass; angina affects as many women as men. To reduce the risk of angina, we must control the lifestyle factors that lead to heart disease.

Prevention tips include:

  • Control your diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
  • Don’t overeat. This can prevent a large meal from triggering angina.
  • Eliminate stress in your daily routine. Hormones produced during stress can narrow your arteries and exacerbate angina.
  • Make dietary changes appropriate for heart health. Limit saturated fats while increasing whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Eliminate all use of tobacco: cigarettes, chewing tobacco, pipes, and cigars.
  • If you are overweight, lose weight, but consult your cardiologist before starting any weight-loss plan.
  • Increase your activity levels. Once again, ask your cardiologist which exercises or activities will help you.
  • If physical exertion triggers angina, increase exercise levels slowly and take breaks.
  • Take medications as prescribed. Changes in type or dosage must come from your cardiologist.
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