Angina is chest pain or discomfort that occurs when heart muscles don't receive enough oxygen-rich blood flow. Symptoms of angina include a feeling of pressure or squeezing pain in the chest. The pain may also appear in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, upper abdomen or back.
In many cases, angina is a sign of coronary artery disease, which occurs when the blood vessels leading to the heart are blocked and oxygen flow is decreased. When the heart is deprived of oxygen, chest pain is often a symptom.
Angina can be either 'stable' or 'unstable'. Stable angina has a predictable pattern, and can be more easily managed because you can determine what triggers the pain and how to relieve it. Unstable angina is less predictable and more severe. It may also be a warning sign of a heart attack. Remember, not all chest pain is angina. Always seek medical attention at the first sign of chest pain.
If you already have angina, you can help prevent symptoms by recognizing what triggers the condition. If you don’t have angina, preventing coronary artery disease may reduce your chance of getting it. Follow a healthy diet, exercise, quit smoking, manage your cholesterol and blood pressure, and maintain a healthy weight to fight heart disease and angina.