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Is angina related to high blood pressure?

Dr. Sameer A. Sayeed, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Angina can be related to high blood pressure in at least two ways. High blood pressure can cause damage to the coronary arteries, leading to blockages in the arteries and abnormal blood flow to the heart, which causes angina or chest pain due to inadequate blood flow to the heart.

High blood pressure puts a lot of strain on the heart and the pressure the heart has to exert to pump blood against this high pressure requires more blood flow and oxygen. This causes angina when there is already coronary disease and blood flow cannot increase adequately in this situation.

Angina is related to high blood pressure. In patients who have angina, higher blood pressure can lead to more angina symptoms. It has to do with the heart having to work harder against that higher blood pressure. It puts stress on the heart wall. Where there’s more stress on the heart, it has a higher oxygen demand, and that can lead to lower blood flow and angina.

When chest discomfort is caused by coronary heart disease it is called angina pectoris. The feelings usually last only a few minutes. There is usually relief by sitting and resting for a few minutes or by taking nitroglycerin medication. At times the activity which causes the pain can be predicted and avoided. For instance, some people find that angina only comes on if they are walking too fast, walking uphill or in cold weather.

There are several types of angina pectoris. Stable angina pectoris means that the discomfort and limitation have not increased recently, such as over the previous 1 to 2 months. There may be chest pain, tightness or other discomfort on exertion or from other causes, but the severity and frequency of the episodes are the same. The chest discomfort usually lasts less than five minutes and is relieved by resting or by nitroglycerin medication.

In persons with stable angina, researchers usually find a narrowing of at least one of the coronary arteries. The narrowed blood vessel allows enough blood (and oxygen) supply to the heart muscle at rest. With more activities, the heart increases its work and needs more blood, but the narrowed vessel limits the supply of blood, and angina develops. With rest, the need for more blood supply lessens, and the chest pain goes away. Medication such as nitroglycerin may relieve the pain in a few minutes, and other medications can help prevent angina. Your doctor needs to guide your treatment.

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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.