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More About Angina

Angina pectoris—or simply angina—is chest pain or discomfort that keeps coming back. It happens when some part of your heart doesn't get enough blood and oxygen. Angina can be a symptom of coronary artery disease (CAD). This occurs when arteries that carry blood to your heart become narrowed and blocked because of atherosclerosis or a blood clot. It can also occur because of unstable plaques, poor blood flow through a narrowed heart valve, a decreased pumping function of the heart muscle, as well as a coronary artery spasm.

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There are 2 other forms of angina pectoris. They are:

Variant angina pectoris
(or Prinzmetal's angina)

Microvascular angina

  • Is rare
  • Occurs almost only when you are at rest
  • Often doesn't follow a period of physical exertion or emotional stress
  • Can be very painful and usually occurs between midnight and 8 a.m.
  • Is related to spasm of the artery
  • Is more common in women
  • Can be helped by medicines such as calcium channel blockers. These medicines help dilate the coronary arteries and prevent spasm.
  • A recently discovered type of angina
  • People with this condition have chest pain but have no apparent coronary artery blockages
  • Doctors have found that the pain results from poor function of tiny blood vessels nourishing the heart, as well as the arms and legs
  • Can be treated with some of the same medicines used for angina pectoris
  • Was once called Syndrome X
  • Is more common in women