Angina is one symptom of coronary heart disease. It occurs when atherosclerosis (the build-up of plaque in the arteries) grows slowly over time, reducing the flow of blood through the arteries. If an artery narrows to 30 percent or less of its normal diameter, angina may occur.
Angina is characterized by a pain or discomfort in the chest or shortness of breath. It usually happens during times of exertion, when the heart requires more oxygen than it needs while the body is at rest. This can include exercise, but angina can also occur when you’re doing other less strenuous activities, such as climbing stairs or gardening.
Not all those suffering from threatening heart disease experience the relatively mild warning of angina, however. Sometimes the first sign of heart disease is a full-blown heart attack. See the next page to learn what happens during a heart attack.
To learn more about coronary heart disease, see:
- Risk Factors of Coronary Heart Disease: High cholesterol isn't the only risk factor of coronary heart disease. Learn how weight, blood pressure, some medical conditions, and lifestyle choices impact the risk.
- Diagnosing Coronary Heart Disease: Doctors take several factors into account to diagnose coronary heart disease. Learn what tests are used, and how to interpret the results.
- Symptoms of Coronary Heart Disease in Women: The symptoms of coronary heart disease in women -- especially younger women -- can be different than for their male counterparts. Learn the symptoms to look out for.
- Coronary Heart Disease: Coronary heart disease is a serious condition that affects millions of people each year. Find out what coronary heart disease is and what you can do to lower your risk.