Understanding Angina Causes and Risks

stethascope on a chart

The simplest definition of angina is chest pain, but that doesn’t really explain what it is, why it happens, and what it could mean for your health now and in the future.

This quick guide will explain angina causes, symptoms and risks in understandable terms. If you are worried about angina for your own health or that of someone you love, this should give you a foundation of knowledge so you understand what you are dealing with and can talk more directly with doctors if it’s a serious problem.


What Is Angina?

Angina is chest pain, but it is a very specific type of chest pain with a very specific cause. It comes on when the heart is not getting an adequate supply of blood. Blood is transferred in and out of the heart through arteries, but those arteries sometimes become clogged with something known as plaque. Clogged Arteries don’t allow blood to flow freely into and out of the heart.
Since blood is the vehicle for delivering oxygen to the heart, the inability to get sufficient supplies of blood into the heart is a big health concern.


Angina Causes

picture of fat in the bloodThis clogging of the arteries is the cause of cardiovascular atherosclerosis, which is the leading cause of death in many areas of the world. Angina is one of the major symptoms of cardiovascular heart disease and is often what sends concerned patients in to see their doctor for testing. The chest pain is caused directly from the distress of the heart when adequate supplies of blood (oxygen) do not make it through the arteries.

Consider the pain felt from angina to be a distress call from your heart. It is your heart alerting you that it needs more blood if you want it to continue functioning properly. This is a distress call that you do not want to ignore, since death by heart attack could be the final result


Symptoms of Angina

Man having a Stress TestNow that you understand the angina causes, it is time to learn how to recognize the condition. Angina can occur while you are sitting still or while you are in motion. If it occurs when you are exercising, walking up a tall flight of stairs, or during a moment of emotional upset, then it is chronic angina that will typically go away rather quickly.

If it hangs around longer and tends to come when you are not active, then you may be dealing with a more serious condition known as unstable angina. This is the type of angina that may warn of a heart attack coming on, so it is very important to seek medical attention right away.

Chest pain is the most obvious sign of angina, but it may also come with pain in other areas of the body. You may also feel short of breath or there may be a sensation of tightness in your chest, arms, or other areas. If this is happening without exercise or emotional upset, then it’s important to take it seriously and head straight for an emergency room.

The ultimate risk of angina can be death, so you don’t want to take it lightly.
Understanding the angina causes and the most common symptoms is important, but also recognize that this condition can occur when there are no symptoms.


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