Advertisement

What is unstable angina pectoris?

Harris H. McIlwain, MD
Rheumatology

Angina pectoris is called unstable when the chest discomfort changes--if it happens for the first time or when it becomes more frequent or longer lasting. Being aware of this change is important because it means danger with a higher risk of sudden worsening of the coronary heart disease at this time.

In unstable angina pectoris, the chest discomfort may happen more often or with much less activity or less exertion than before. It commonly happens with no activity at all--even awakening from sleep. Unstable angina pectoris can happen after a heart attack or in a patient who has already had coronary heart disease such as coronary artery surgery.
 
Unstable angina pectoris can happen suddenly with no specific cause, even when you have done everything as prescribed. Patients need immediate medical attention and hospitalization during any of the above types of unstable angina pectoris or prolonged chest pain.

Researchers have found that in unstable angina pectoris there is usually a sudden decrease in the blood flow in a coronary artery. This can happen from a small crack or fissure in the wall of the artery. The fissure causes a reaction nearby which results in a clot in the artery with temporary blockage of the blood flow.

Unofficial Guide to Impotence

More About this Book

Unofficial Guide to Impotence

The Unofficial Guide to Conquering Impotence delivers the inside scoop on impotence: the truth about Viagra, what treatments really work, and how lifestyle changes can aid in conquering...

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
What are the types of angina?
Jack E. Dawson Jr., MDJack E. Dawson Jr., MD
Angina may present during exertion, emotional upsets, at rest and in the night. It may occur shortly...
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.