What is acute angina?

Acute angina is a condition that occurs when there is suddenly not enough blood flowing to the heart. Symptoms generally include sudden chest pain, nausea, dizziness, and heart palpitations, and tend to go away at rest. For this reason, it is different from a heart attack, although this condition is a common symptom of coronary heart disease, meaning it deserves immediate medical attention. In many cases, this problem is caused by coronary arteries that have become too narrow to allow enough blood to flow to the heart.

Most cases of acute angina occur as a result of activity, including during or just after exercise, a large meal, or even stress. All of these activities may require more oxygen to flow from the blood to the heart than normal, resulting in the narrowed coronary arteries not being able to keep up with the demand. In most cases, symptoms disappear within minutes as soon as the patient rests or puts a nitroglycerin tablet in their mouth, both of which can lower blood pressure. This is what separates the symptoms of acute angina from those of a heart attack, since the signs of the latter condition usually don't go away with rest.

There are two types of this condition, with the most common being stable angina. Patients with stable angina usually have an idea of ​​when their symptoms will occur, as they often appear when active and resolve with rest or nitroglycerin. On the other hand, unstable angina is more severe, with symptoms that can appear at any time and usually do not go away with rest or nitroglycerin. In fact, this condition usually precedes a heart attack, thus requiring immediate medical attention. Fortunately, this type is much rarer than stable angina.

The most common symptom of acute angina is chest discomfort, which is usually described as pressure, heaviness, or even a sharp stabbing pain. This sign may be accompanied by heart palpitations, with the feeling that the heart is going to beat strongly from the chest. Indigestion, nausea, and even vomiting can occur at the same time, causing the patient to feel very uncomfortable. Another symptom of acute angina is often dizziness or shortness of breath, which is due to reduced oxygen flow to the brain. Not surprisingly, anxiety, sweating, and fatigue also often occur during the sudden onset of acute angina, especially if the patient is unaware of what is happening.

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