Angina is chest pain that occurs when blood circulation is low. Angina may feel like a squeezing pain in ones chest. The pain may also occur in the shoulders, back, arms, neck, and also the jaw.
Angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD is the most common form of heart disease in the U.S..
Types of Angina
The three types of angina are stable, unstable, and variant (Prinzmetal’s).
Stable angina. Stable angina is the most common type. It occurs when the heart is working harder than usual. There is a regular pattern to stable angina. After several episodes, one can learn to recognize the pattern and predict when it may occur. The pain usually goes away in a few minutes after rest or after taking angina medicine. Stable angina is not a heart attack, but makes a future heart attack more likely.
Unstable angina. Unstable angina is a dangerous condition that requires emergency treatment. It is a sign that a heart attack could occur soon. Unlike stable angina, it does not follow a pattern. It can occur without physical exertion and is not relieved by rest or medicine.
Variant angina. Although rare, it usually occurs at rest. The pain can be severe and usually occurs between midnight and early morning. It can be relieved by medicine.
Not all chest pain or discomfort is angina. Chest pain or discomfort can be caused by a heart attack, lung problem (such as an infection or a blood clot), heartburn, or a panic attack.