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Mercy Heart & Vascular Services

Conditions - Angina


Angina

Angina is the medical term for chest pain or discomfort that indicates you could have coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common form of heart disease. However you can have CAD without angina. Severe anemia can also cause angina. It is an often painful symptom of heart disease that occurs when your heart doesn’t get an adequate supply of oxygen-rich blood. It can feel like strong pressure or squeezing in your heart and chest; the sensation can also occur in your shoulders, back, jaw or neck.

There are four types of angina – stable, unstable, variant and microvascular:
  • Stable angina is the most common form and occurs when the heart has to pump harder than normal. Pain stemming from stable angina typically subsides quickly. Stable angina does not lead to a heart attack but can indicate risk for a future heart attack.
  • Unstable angina is unpredictable; it does not stem from exertion and it may not be alleviated by rest or medicine. It is a serious form of angina and can signal an imminent heart attack. If you suffer from unstable angina you should seek immediate medical attention.
  • Variant angina is not common. It typically occurs in patients who are resting and the pain can be severe, but is responsive to medication.
  • Microvascular angina is a more severe form of angina and may not respond to medication. It could be an indicator of coronary microvascular disease (MCD) – also called “cardiac syndrome X”, another form of unstable angina that does not respond to medication which is more common in women than men and may be caused by a temporary narrowing of small arteries in the heart.
If you are experiencing chest pain you should seek medical attention immediately to determine if it is caused by heart or vascular disease or another, unrelated condition. After doing a basic physical examination and checking your blood pressure, your Mercy Heart and Vascular Center cardiologist may order several tests to determine if you have angina. If your angina is diagnosed as a symptom of heart disease your Mercy cardiologist may recommend:
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