Stable angina

  • Definition

    Stable angina is chest pain or discomfort that typically occurs with activity or stress. Angina is a type of chest discomfort caused by poor blood flow through the blood vessels (coronary vessels) of the heart muscle (myocardium).

    See also: Unstable angina

    Alternative Names

    Angina - stable; Angina - chronic; Angina pectoris

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Your heart muscle is working all the time, so it needs a continuous supply of oxygen. This oxygen is provided by the coronary arteries, which carry blood.

    When the heart muscle has to work harder, it needs more oxygen. Symptoms of angina occur when the coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked by hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), or by a blood clot.

    The most common cause of angina is coronary heart disease (CHD). Angina pectoris is the medical term for this type of chest pain.

    Stable angina is predictable chest pain. Although less serious than unstable angina, it can be very painful or uncomfortable.

    The risk factors for coronary heart disease include:

    • Diabetes
    • Family history of coronary heart disease before age 50
    • High blood pressure
    • High LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol
    • Male gender
    • Not getting enough exercise
    • Obesity
    • Smoking

    Anything that requires the heart muscle to need more oxygen can cause an angina attack, including:

    • Cold weather
    • Exercise
    • Emotional stress
    • Large meals

    Other causes of angina include:

    • Abnormal heart rhythms
    • Anemia
    • Coronary artery spasm (also called Prinzmetal's angina)
    • Heart failure
    • Heart valve disease
    • Hyperthyroidism