Angina occurs when the heart does not receive sufficient oxygen due to narrowing of the arteries that carry blood to the heart. Not a condition on its own, angina is a symptom that indicates other, potentially serious, health issues including blocked arteries and heart disease.
The best-known symptom of angina is a pain in or around the chest. Some people describe the pain as a pressure or squeezing in the chest or surrounding areas. Pain levels can vary depending on age, physical condition, and other individual factors. Sometimes, the pain spreads to other parts of the body, including the neck, arms, or jaw. Chest pain may also be a symptom of a heart attack.
Exercise can exacerbate angina in some individuals. Sudden physical movement, such as running or other exercises, may provoke attacks, as can stress. Rest and medication can aid in reducing them, and a doctor can prescribe the best preventative and management options.
Unstable angina increases the risk of a heart attack. A lack of blood flow is the most common trigger of this issue, which can cause unexpected attacks of pain. It's distinguished from stable angina by the fact that chest pain occurs even when a person isn't exerting themselves, or is brought on by light exertion. Unstable angina is an emergency that requires immediate medication attention.
Pain in the arms, neck, and surrounding areas can also point to problems involving the heart and blood vessels. Pain originating from reduced blood flow to the heart can be felt in other areas, particularly the left arm and neck. In some cases, a person will only feel pain in the surrounding areas and not the chest itself. Therefore, it is important to seek medical evaluation, especially if the discomfort is associated with shortness of breath, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, dizziness, palpitations, or sweating.
Genetics determine many of our physiological qualities, and mutations or other changes to DNA can increase an individual's risk of developing certain diseases. Men of South Asian descent are at a higher risk of developing heart disease and heart attacks. Older people also have a higher risk. Smokers, people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, and those with close family members who have had heart attacks are at higher risk too.
Sudden pain may be a sign of unstable angina, and it often catches people off-guard. This is the difference between stable and unstable angina. The former causes pain during periods of physical exercise or instigators that can be quickly identified as triggers. Attacks of unstable angina, however, can occur without obvious triggers and when a person is quietly resting.
During an angina attack, people often experience intense pain lasting up to ten minutes. However, those with unstable angina report attacks that last up to an hour. These periods of prolonged pain could indicate an individual is likely to experience a heart attack and, therefore, requires immediate medical attention.
People with angina experience excess sweating because their nervous system goes into overdrive, releasing hormones that cause this symptom. Sweating can also be a sign of a heart attack. In some cases, it can be difficult to distinguish between an angina attack and a heart attack, but it is important to seek help regardless.
Along with pain, people with angina may experience other symptoms such as vomiting and shortness of breath. Angina reduces oxygen delivery to the heart and other tissues, which often results in difficulty breathing. Some people also report anxiety, which may further contribute to pain and shortness of breath.
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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.