Angina Pectoris

Angina pectoris is generally defined as chest pain resulting from an imbalance between blood flow to the heart muscle and oxygen supply. It affects nearly 10 million Americans yearly, and nearly half a million Americans are newly diagnosed with angina pectoris annually. It is one of the more common symptoms of coronary artery disease. It can be a recurring problem or a sudden, acute health issue. Many people find it hard to distinguish between angina pectoris and other common causes of chest pain, such as gas or indigestion.

Symptoms and Complications

Angina pectoris is characterized by heaviness, pressure, burning, aching, squeezing or pain in the chest. The pain often starts after eating, exertion, exposure to cold or stress. It doesn’t worsen or get better if you change your position, cough or breathe. There are several different categories of angina pectoris.

* Stable angina: Stable angina is a common symptom of coronary artery disease. It generally occurs due to exertion, such as climbing stairs, exercising or walking. It may also be triggered by heavy meals, smoking, emotional stress or cold temperatures, all of which temporarily increase your heart’s need for blood.

* Unstable Angina: Unstable angina occurs when fatty deposits rupture in a blood vessel, or when a blood clot suddenly blocks the blood flow to your heart. It can also be caused by severe anemia. If the blockage isn’t relieved quickly, the heart tissue that is deprived of oxygen dies.

* Variant Angina: Also called Prinzmetal’s angina, this is caused by a spasm in a coronary artery which temporarily narrows the artery and reduces blood flow to your heart.

Risk Factors and Causes

The immediate cause of angina is reduced blood flow to the heart muscle, generally caused by coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis – fatty deposits on the walls of the blood vessels that supply your heart, which narrow them and constrict the flow of blood.


Doctors treat angina pectoris in a number of different ways, including with medications, surgery, angioplasty and lifestyle changes. The primary goals of treatment are to reduce the severity of your symptoms, slow the progression of the disease and lower your risk of heart attack and death. Recent studies have found that stem cell injections may help the heart muscle tissue heal, particularly in cases of refractory angina.

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