What causes angina?

Yolanda Y. Hendley, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Angina is chest pain caused by narrowing of arteries in your heart. The heart does not get enough oxygen-rich blood, which it needs to keep pumping. You may feel the pain during certain activities such as exercise, or when you are upset. Extreme temperatures, overeating, alcohol and smoking can also cause angina symptoms. Nausea, lightheadedness and sweating may occur. People with angina have a higher chance of heart attack.

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The content originally appeared online at Saint Francis Healthcare.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
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.

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.

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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.