Chest pain, or angina, is not a heart condition, but an indicator or symptom of heart issues. Angina presents itself as discomfort in the chest area, such as pressure or a squeezing sensation in the chest, or a heaviness. This discomfort occurs when the heart is not getting the amount of blood it needs, and there can also be pain in the jaw, shoulder, arm, back or neck. Angina is a symptom of coronary heart disease and should never be ignored. However, there are four different types of angina, each one slightly different.
- Stable angina is usually brought on by some type of stress or assertion on the heart. This could be excessive exercise, shock, extreme temperatures or large meals, resulting in discomfort in the chest which usually goes away once the trigger is gone.
- Unlike stable angina which is usually precluded by a trigger, unstable episodes can come on with no warning, even while resting. Often these episodes to sudden chest pain are due to blockages or narrowing of the arteries, resulting in less blood reaching the heart.
- A rare type of angina, variant episodes often happen late at night or early in the morning, with a contraction or spasm of the arteries leading to the heart
- Microvascular. Like variant, microvascular angina causes low blood to the heart from spasms, but in the smaller blood vessels in the coronary arteries. The pain is often more intense and lasts longer.
Any type of angina should be reported to your doctor and may require a visit to a cardiologist. Angina can be one of the first symptoms of heart disease and should be taken seriously.
Posted on behalf of:
Alan Benvenisty, MD
1090 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10025
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