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Angina is pain, discomfort, or pressure in the chest that is caused by ischemia, an insufficient supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. It is sometimes also characterized by a feeling of choking, suffocation, or crushing heaviness. This condition is also called angina pectoris.
Often described as a muscle spasm and choking sensation, the term angina is used primarily to describe chest (thoracic) pain caused by insufficient oxygen to the heart muscle. An episode of angina is not an actual heart attack, but rather pain that results when the heart muscle temporarily receives too little blood. This temporary condition may be the result of demanding activities such as exercise and does not necessarily indicate that the heart muscle is experiencing permanent damage. In fact, episodes of angina seldom cause permanent damage to heart muscle.
Angina can be subdivided into two categories: angina of effort and variant angina.
Angina of effort is a common disorder caused by the narrowing of the arteries (a condition called atherosclerosis)
Variant angina is uncommon and occurs independently of atherosclerosis, which may incidentally be present. Variant angina occurs at rest and is not related to excessive work by the heart muscle. Research indicates that variant angina is caused by coronary artery muscle spasm that does not last long enough or is not intense enough to cause an actual heart attack.
Author Info: Paula Ford-Martin, Teresa G. Odle, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, 2005This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare professional with any health concerns you may have.
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