Chest Pain

Clogged Artery

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What is Angina?

Angina is a painful or uncomfortable feeling in or near the chest. It happens because the heart is not getting enough oxygen rich blood. Angina is not the same thing as a heart attack. Angina is the heart’s early warning that there may be a risk of a heart attack. Symptoms of angina should be reported to your physician and timely evaluation can protect you from having a heart attack.

There are 2 types of angina: Stable and Unstable. Both types need to be treated. Stable Angina occurs at predictable times, such as when you are doing something active like climbing stairs. It may also be triggered by stress or anger. It does not occur at rest, in fact, it is usually relieved by rest. Unstable Angina is not predictable. It can occur at rest. It usually lasts longer than stable

Recognize symptoms of Angina

  • Pain, heaviness, tightness, pressure, burning, or aching
  • These symptoms can be located in the chest, back, neck, throat, or jaw.
  • Angina can also be felt in the arms, elbows, wrists, or shoulders.
  • Sometimes people with Diabetes do not have any obvious symptoms.
  • Other symptoms that may occur include:
    • Tiredness
    • Nausea
    • Sweating
    • Shortness of Breath
    • Light-headedness
    • Increased or Irregular Heart Rate

How Does Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) Develop?

Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood throughout the body. Like other muscles, the heart needs a steady supply of oxygen to function. The coronary arteries supply oxygen rich blood to the heart muscle. If the heart does not get enough oxygen rich blood, angina or a heart attack can result.

CAD starts when the lining of a coronary artery is damaged from smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and/or diabetes. A plaque then builds up within the artery wall and narrows the lumen. At times when the heart muscle needs more oxygen, not enough blood can get through to meet the need. This can lead to angina.

A heart attack (myocardial infarction) occurs when a coronary artery is completely blocked by a plaque and/or a blood clot. When this happens, the heart muscle beyond the blockage does not receive oxygen rich blood. This leads to death of the heart muscle if the blood vessel is not opened immediately. This damage cannot be reversed.