What causes angina?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is frequently the cause of angina. In coronary artery disease, arteries that supply the heart with blood narrow when deposits accumulate on the inside of the artery. These deposits are called plaques. The narrowing makes it much harder for blood to carry oxygen to the heart. In arteries that are already narrow, anything that would reduce blood flow suddenly, for example, a blood clot, can have a dramatic effect on the blood's ability to get to the heart. Sudden chest pain-angina-can occur, indicating that a heart attack may be imminent. Anemia, in which there are not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen in the blood, can also contribute to angina.

A rare type of angina, variant angina, is the result of a coronary artery spasm. Use of cocaine, nicotine, and amphetamines can cause coronary artery spasms, and sometimes they are caused by other diseases such as lupus.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

The squeezing chest pain known as angina occurs when the heart does not get enough blood supplying oxygen and nutrients. Watch as Dr. Oz explains how angina develops.

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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.