About angina

Learn about angina and its causes

What is angina?

Angina means chest pain. It is a warning sign that the heart is under stress. Angina happens when the heart muscle does not get enough blood and oxygen to work properly.

An artery of the heart can close due to plaque that has built up over time. Plaque is made of:

  • fats
  • calcium
  • cholesterol

This build-up of plaque is known as a hardening of the arteries. It is what usually causes angina. The plaque may eventually severely block the artery. This can cause death to the tissue that gets blood from the artery, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.

Sometimes, angina follows a regular pattern. This is called stable angina. Stress or physical activity can often trigger angina pain. Stopping the activity or using certain medication can usually control this kind of heart condition.

Unfortunately, at other times, angina is harder to figure out. This is called unstable angina, and the pain can happen any time, even when you are asleep.

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