Angina(or Angina Pectoris) is a sudden or chronic chest pain associated with reduced blood flow to the heart. Angina is a condition in and of itself but it is frequently a symptom of other heart related conditions such as heart disease, and can also be an early warning sign of a heart attack. Regardless, all chest pain should be treated as serious and checked by your doctor. There are several types of angina including stable, unstable, variant, and microvascular.
Stable Angina is typically fairly predictable in that specific activities or amounts of exertion can trigger it for a predictable amount of time. Stable angina often only lasts for a few minutes and usually goes away after a few minutes of rest. This type of angina is manageable with medication but patients should be aware that it could indicate an increased risk of heart attack.
Unstable Angina seemingly occurs at random for unpredictable reasons and durations. Rest and medication may or may not give pain relief. This type of angina should be considered a medical emergency since it is often a sign that a heart attack is impending.
Variant Angina occurs randomly while at rest or while sleeping and is usually more painful than other types of angina. It is a result of spasms within the coronary artery. Variant angina is typically caused by stress, smoking and drug use, and even changes in the weather. Medication can be taken for relief. Pain does not typically last for long.
Microvascular Angina is pain associated with Coronary microvasular disease (CMD). It is characterized by severe and long lasting pain caused by constriction of the blood vessels in the heart. The pain can often spread to areas around the heart such as the neck and arms. The pain from CMD can occur without overexertion during routine daily activity. As with other types of angina, the symptoms of CMD typically indicate an increased risk of heart attack and should be checked by your doctor.