Angina Attacks

Understanding Angina Attacks

Angina attacks are periods of chest pain or discomfort caused by reduced blood flow to the heart. They occur when the heart does not receive enough oxygen and nutrients. People experiencing an angina attack may feel uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain in their chest.

There are two types of angina attacks: stable angina and unstable angina. Stable angina occurs when the pattern of chest pain or discomfort is predictable. Unstable angina occurs when the pattern of chest pain or discomfort is unpredictable. Unstable angina is a more serious type of angina attack and may indicate the presence of a heart attack.

What Causes Angina Attacks?

Angina attacks usually occur when the heart demands more oxygen than it is receiving. This can be caused by narrowed coronary arteries, which can be the result of atherosclerosis, a buildup of fatty deposits and other substances in the blood vessels.

In some cases, angina attacks may be caused by physical exertion, emotional stress, exposure to cold, or heavy meals. These triggers cause a surge in blood flow, which can overwhelm the lesser supply in the narrowed arteries.

Signs and Symptoms of Angina Attacks

The symptoms of an angina attack may include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the chest, arm, neck, jaw, or back.
  • Feeling of pressure on the chest.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Sweating.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Dizziness.

When to See a Doctor

If you experience any of the symptoms of an angina attack, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Seek emergency medical treatment if the symptoms are severe, last longer than 15 minutes, or are accompanied by other symptoms, such as difficulty breathing.

If you have had a prior episode of angina or a heart attack, it is important to talk to your doctor and follow their instructions. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medications, or other treatments to help reduce the risk of angina episodes or heart attacks.