Angina is an uncomfortable or dull pain in the chest. The centre of the chest will feel heavy and tight. This can spread to the arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach.
What causes it?
Angina is caused by a lack of oxygen to the heart muscle.
A lack of oxygen to the heart can be the result of coronary atherosclerosis (thickening of the arteries supplying blood to the heart). Narrow coronary arteries reduce the blood flow to the heart muscle.
This is usually noticed at times when the heart muscle needs more blood supply, such as during exercise, extreme cold or after a heavy meal.
What are the risk factors?
You are at risk of angina if:
- You have a family history of atherosclerosis
- You have a high blood cholesterol level or high blood pressure
- You are a cigarette smoker and/or you have diabetes
It can also be caused by obesity, stress or a lack of exercise.
What are the symptoms?
- A squeezing or heavy pressing sensation on the chest which can spread to the arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach
- A constricting sensation in the throat
- Increased shortness of breath on exercise.