That feeling of crushing pain in your chest can be a medical emergency, but it can also be angina pectoris, or “stable angina” — a symptom of coronary heart disease that can be managed with medication.
Angina can be stable, unstable, variant or refractory, so it’s important for people having chest pain to see a doctor to determine what needs to be done.
“It turns out, there are lots of different kinds of chest pain. In fact, almost everything in the chest can hurt in one way or another. Some of the causes are really nothing more than a minor inconvenience. Some of them though are quite serious, even life-threatening,” Dr. Alan Greene said recently about stable angina, noting chest pain can be caused by everything from asthma to a blood clot in the lungs.
What is angina pectoris?
Stable angina typically happens because of narrowing or blockages in the arteries that are not providing the heart muscle with the blood it needs, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
It’s the most common type of angina and has a regular pattern, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Conversely, unstable angina can be a sign of an imminent heart attack. In this case, the pain doesn’t follow a pattern or stop with rest and medication, according to the NLM.
Variant angina happens when someone is at rest and can be treated with medications, according to the NLM. A person with refractory angina may have frequent symptoms despite lifestyle changes and medication, according to the Mayo Clinic.
What causes angina pectoris?
Coronary heart disease is behind angina. That condition is due to reduced blood flow because of plaque growth from waxy cholesterol sticking to the walls of the coronary arteries, according to the AHA.
Arteries can narrow over time or be blocked by a clot if plaque ruptures and breaks off suddenly.
Angina pectoris symptoms
Angina can feel different for men than for women. Some symptoms include a feeling of squeezing or pain in the center of the chest or discomfort in the neck, jaw, shoulder, back or arm, according to the AHA.
Angina can cause feelings of chest pain and arm numbness, according to the Texas Heart Institute in Houston. The pain may