This factsheet is for people who have angina, or who would like information about it.
Angina describes the pain or discomfort felt in the chest when the flow of oxygen-rich blood in a coronary artery (a blood vessel that supplies the heart with blood) is restricted.
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Published by Bupa’s Health Information Team, May 2011.
Angina is a symptom of coronary heart disease. You are more likely to get angina as you get older and men are more likely to get it than women. Angina usually starts with chest pain or tightness when you are under stress or doing some sort of physical activity.
Types of angina
There are two main types of angina.
Stable angina is when you get regular or predictable symptoms that you have had for more than two months. Symptoms of stable angina usually develop gradually over time and you can often notice a pattern to your symptoms. For example, it is common to only get symptoms when you do physical activity or if you are under a lot of stress. Symptoms of stable angina that get worse with physical activity often pass within a few minutes of rest.
Unstable angina is usually caused by sudden narrowing of a coronary artery and can mean you are at risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Symptoms of unstable angina often come on after only a small amount of effort or even when resting. There is often no pattern to your symptoms and they may last for 30 minutes or more. Pain and discomfort may develop quickly and be more severe and frequent than with stable angina. If you get sudden chest pain or you think you may have unstable angina, call for emergency help immediately.
Angina and heart attack
If a coronary artery becomes completely blocked, part of the heart muscle may be starved of oxygen and become damaged. This is a heart attack. The pain is usually severe and lasts longer than that of angina. If you have angina, your usual treatment may not relieve the pain of a heart attack. If you suspect that you, or someone else, is having a heart attack, call for emergency help immediately.
This information was published by Bupa's Health Information Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been peer reviewed by Bupa doctors. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition. The content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.