What Are the Different Types of Angina?

Chest pain is a primary symptom of a heart attack. Angina is cardiac-related chest pain. So, if you have angina, does that mean you’re having a heart attack? No.

A heart attack is what happens when blood flow to your heart is blocked. Angina occurs when arteries carrying blood to your heart narrow, and the pain caused by the increased pressure is a warning that you may have coronary artery disease. It’s a subtle and understandably confusing distinction and, just to add to the fun, there are several types of angina to consider.

The top-rated specialists at Premier Cardiology Consultants, with four locations convenient to New York City and its surrounding boroughs, are happy to help clear up the confusion about angina and what it might mean for your health.

What is angina?

Angina is the term physicians use to describe chest pain that’s linked to decreased blood flow to your heart. It’s most often related to narrowing of the large coronary arteries but can also result from microvascular disease or damage to the small coronary vessels that feed the heart.

Angina-type chest pain occurs when your heart beats faster and more forcefully to try and increase its oxygen levels and blood supply. It’s a serious condition that requires medical attention but doesn’t cause the same damage as a heart attack when treated appropriately.

What are the types of angina?

Common types of angina include:

Stable angina

As its name implies, this type of angina is fairly predictable and the most common type of angina. It often occurs with physical activity that increases your heart’s need for blood, such as brisk walking or climbing stairs.

The chest pain associated with angina is typically described as a squeezing, burning, or a pressure-like sensation. Other symptoms might include:

These symptoms typically resolve with rest or in response to medication such as nitroglycerin tablets placed under the tongue.

Unstable angina

As the name implies, unstable angina is less predictable than its stable cousin; it often occurs at rest; and it can signal a pending heart attack. It should be treated as a medical emergency. 

Symptoms of unstable angina typically occur without warning, last longer than five minutes and, while similar to those experienced with stable angina, don’t usually respond to medications such as nitroglycerin.

Stable angina may become unstable over time, making it imperative that you seek urgent medical care if you note a change in previously diagnosed angina symptoms.

Microvascular angina

Microvascular angina is related to damage in the small blood vessels that branch away from the large coronary arteries. These small arteries carry blood to different regions of the heart muscle. It’s not clear why, but this form of angina is more common in women than men.

Effective treatment for angina starts with an accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause of your symptoms and the type of angina you’re experiencing. 

For top-rated cardiac care that may include angina treatment, call Premier Cardiology Consultants at one of our locations or schedule a visit online today.

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