Advertisement

What are the types of angina?

Jack E. Dawson Jr., MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Angina may present during exertion, emotional upsets, at rest and in the night. It may occur shortly after lying down at bedtime or more ominously in the pre dawn hours of the morning. All of these episodes reflect angina that is associated with plaque buildup, except that occurring at rest. Variant angina usually represents arterial spasms. Angina may be predictable or stable, as well as unstable, when the symptoms are unpredictable and fail to respond to rest or nitroglycerin as usual. Angina occurring in the early morning hours may be more unstable too. These two varieties may best be evaluated in the emergency department of your nearby hospital.
The most common types of angina are stable angina and unstable angina. A rare type of angina is called variant angina.
Stable angina occurs when the heart is working harder than usual. Pain from stable angina goes away when you rest or take your angina medicine. Angina medicine, such as nitroglycerin, helps widen and relax the arteries so that more blood can flow to the heart.
Unstable angina is a very dangerous condition and needs emergency treatment. Unstable angina is a sign that a heart attack may happen soon. Unstable angina can occur with or without physical exertion. It isn't relieved by rest or medicine.
Variant angina is caused by a spasm (tightening) in a coronary artery. This narrowing of the artery slows or stops blood flow to the heart muscle. The pain may be severe. This type of angina is relieved by medicine.
This answer from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.

Continue Learning about Angina

Angina Pectoris (Chest Pain)
Angina Pectoris (Chest Pain)
What is angina pectoris? Angina is temporary pain or discomfort in the chest that occurs when not enough oxygen-carrying blood reaches your heart musc...
Read More
Is angina serious?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
There are two kinds of angina: stable and unstable. They have different symptoms and unlike stable ...
More Answers
How can warming up help prevent exercise-induced angina?
Anthony L. Komaroff, MDAnthony L. Komaroff, MD
A fascinating occurrence called the "warm-up phenomenon" has puzzled doctors for decades. In the...
More Answers
Is Angina Related to Heart Attacks?
Is Angina Related to Heart Attacks?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.