Angina is a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart.
Angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease. Angina also called angina pectoris is often described as a pressure, squeezing, heaviness or tightness in your chest. Some patients have described angina as a heavy weight being placed on their chests.
Although angina is relatively common, it can still be hard to distinguish from other types of chest pain, such as the pain or discomfort of indigestion. If you have unexplained chest pain, seek medical attention right away.
Angina symptoms include:
Chest pain or discomfort, possibly described as pressure, squeezing, burning or fullness
Pain in your arms, neck, jaw, shoulder or back accompanying chest pain
Shortness of breath
These symptoms need to be evaluated immediately by a doctor who can determine whether you have stable angina, or unstable angina that may indicate a possible heart attack.
Stable angina is the most common form of angina. It usually happens when you exert yourself and goes away with rest. For example, pain that comes on when you're walking uphill or in the cold weather is often angina.
Characteristics of stable angina:
Develops when your heart works harder, such as when you exercise or climb stairs
Can usually be predicted and the pain is usually similar to previous types of chest pain you've had
Lasts a short time, perhaps five minutes or less
Disappears sooner if you rest or use your angina medication
The severity, duration and type of angina can vary. New or different symptoms may signal a more dangerous form of angina (unstable angina) or a heart attack.
Characteristics of unstable angina (a medical emergency):
Occurs even at rest
Is a change in your usual pattern of angina
Is usually more severe and lasts longer than stable angina, maybe 30 minutes or longer
May not disappear with rest or use of angina medication
Might signal a heart attack
There's another type of angina, called variant angina or Prinzmetal's angina. This type of angina is rarer. It's caused by a spasm in your heart's arteries that temporarily reduces blood flow.
Characteristics of variant angina (Prinzmetal's angina):
Usually happens when you're resting
Is often severe
May be relieved by angina medication
Angina in women
A woman's angina symptoms can be different from the classic angina symptoms. These differences may lead to delays in seeking treatment. For example, chest pain is a common symptom in women with angina, but it may not be the only symptom or the most prevalent symptom for women. Women may also experience symptoms such as:
Shortness of breath
Discomfort in the neck, jaw or back
Stabbing pain instead of chest pressure
(Courtesy of mayoclincic.org)
Researchers conducted a 20-week randomized clinical trial at five difference clinical centers.
In addition to fewer angina attacks, those in the disease-affected meridian group had improved scores on measures that tested the severity of angina, including physical activity and rescue medication use. They also had better regulation of anxiety and depression after treatment compared with those who received sham or no acupuncture.
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