This page is split into sections. The first section explains what angina is and the second section describes the signs and symptoms of an angina attack.
What is Angina?
Angina results when the oxygen requirements of the heart exceed supply. The impaired supply of blood to the heart occurs due to narrowing of the coronary arteries generally as a result of atherosclerosis. Atheroma form when the lining of the blood vessels become damaged (for example, from chemicals in cigarette smoke) and are composed of cholesterol, white blood cells, smooth muscle cells, calcium and platelets.
The symptoms of angina present on exertion, during temperature change, during a period of heightened emotion or after a heavy meal. All of these actions either direct blood away from the coronary arteries (eg during a heavy meal an increase in blood supply is required by the gastrointestinal tract) or increase the oxygen requirements of the heart (eg physical exertion).
The following video uses animation to better explain the relationship between angina and coronary heart disease.
Angina - Signs and Symptoms
The main symptom of angina is a central chest pain behind the breastbone. The pain is generally described as an intense, crushing pain. While the majority of sufferers describe the pain as severe, others have found it to be mild-often confusing it with indigestion. The angina pain usually eases when exertion stops.
Other symptoms of angina include:
- The pain often radiates to the arms, neck or jaw.
- Shortness of breath, particularly on exertion.
These symptoms of angina present on exertion, during temperature change, during a period of heightened emotion or after a heavy meal. Angina can be distinguished from heart attack in that the symptoms of angina ease after a few minutes of rest whereas heart attack symptoms generally persist until treatment is received.
The following video offers an explanation of the causes of angina, describes its symptoms, and how it needs to be managed.
The following video describes an angina attack and the work undertaken to develop a cardio risk calculator. For more informational videos please visit our YouTube Channel.