If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your chest, you may be suffering from angina. Angina is a squeezing, tightness or pressure experienced in your chest. It is caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle. At times you may also experience pain in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or the back.
Angina isn’t a disease on its own, but rather a symptom of coronary heart disease (CHD). CHD is one of the most common types of heart disease in adults, which occurs when a substance called plaque builds up around the inner walls of the arteries of your heart. This causes the arteries of the heart to become narrower. Since these arteries primarily carry oxygen to the heart through the bloodstream, the supply of oxygen to the heart then becomes restricted, causing tightness in the chest. Angina may also be a symptom of coronary microvascular disease (MVD), which affects the smallest coronary arteries and is more commonly prevalent amongst women.
There are several types of angina such as stable angina (also known as Angina Pectoris), unstable angina, variant angina and microvascular angina. Stable angina is the most common form of angina and feels like a weight on the chest. It can easily be treated with rest and disappears in a short time. Unstable angina lasts longer and may not disappear, even with the use of medication. There are several causes and risk factors that cause angina, such as high blood pressure, being overweight, high cholesterol levels, age, activity levels, family history of heart diseases, smoking, stress and an unhealthy diet.