Hello and welcome to HealingWell.
Angina is a condition marked by recurring pain or discomfort in the chest. It is usually described as a squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightening or aching across the chest, particularly behind the breastbone. The pain sometimes also is felt in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaws or back.
The heart muscle -- like all areas of the body -- needs a regular supply of blood. When the blood supply doesn't meet the demand, the result is a condition called myocardial ischemia. The most common cause of myocardial ischemia is coronary artery disease. In coronary artery disease, blood vessels that carry blood to the heart muscle become narrowed and blocked because of arteriosclerosis, a build up of fat deposits or "plaque" on artery walls. Angina is a symptom of this condition.
During an angina episode, the lack of oxygen -- called ischemia -- is usually temporary and reversible. Once the oxygen supply to the heart muscle is restored, the chest pain disappears. The pain does not mean that the heart muscle is suffering irreversible, permanent damage. Episodes of angina seldom cause permanent damage to heart muscle.
Angina is divided into types:
Stable angina, the most common type, occurs when the heart is working harder than usual. This can occur during physical exertion or emotional stress; extreme cold or heat; and after eating a heavy meal or drinking alcohol. It can also occur with cigarette smoking.
Unstable angina is a very dangerous condition that requires emergency treatment. It is a sign that a heart attack could occur soon. It is caused by blood clots that partially or totally block an artery. The clot may grow large enough to completely block the artery and cause a heart attack, or it may partly dissolve, and later form again. Chest pain can occur each time a clot blocks an artery. Unlike stable angina, it does not follow a pattern.
Variant angina. Variant angina is rare. It is caused by a spasm in a coronary artery, and it usually occurs at rest. It can occur in people who do not have coronary artery disease.
To answer your question, with stable angina, pain usually lasts less than 15 minutes, may spread to the arms, or other areas, and is relieved by rest or medication. If you receive relief from the treatment it most likely means you have angina. Good question for your Cardiologist.
With unstable angina, the pain or discomfort often occurs at rest, while sleeping or with little physical exertion. It is unexpected, more severe and lasts up to 30 minutes. It is usually not relieved by rest or medication. It can get worse as time passes.
Therefore if your chest pain is not relieved by your medication it may mean you are having -- or are about to have -- a heart attack. Get emergency help right away. Reference: Mayo Clinic Staff
Please remember I am not a physician and these questions should be addressed by a Dr.
I hope this helps you understand angina a bit better.
~~Kitt~~Moderator: Anxiety, Osteoarthritis,
GERD/Heartburn and Heart/Cardiovascular Disease. "She Stood in the Storm & When the Wind Did Not Blow Her Away, She Adjusted Her Sails."