Angina is chest pain that occurs when the heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen. It is commonl...
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Angina is chest pain that occurs when the heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen. It is commonly described as a crushing or squeezing pain in the chest. Oxygen is carried by red blood cells and delivered to the heart muscle via the coronary arteries. Over the years, the insides of the coronary arteries can narrow. The most common cause is a build-up of plaque. As the insides of the arteries become narrow, blood flow is reduced, and your heart has to work harder to get the oxygen it needs. People with a condition called stable angina experience chest pain with physical exertion, when the heart needs more oxygen. Besides the chest, there may also be pain in the arms, neck, shoulders, and back. The pain goes away when the exertion stops. Sometimes plaque that has built up breaks apart, or a blood clot forms, and blood flow to the heart is suddenly and severely reduced. The pain does not go away with rest or the medications that relieve stable angina. This condition is called unstable angina. It is a medical emergency because without blood-carrying oxygen, the heart muscle dies. This death of heart muscle due to lack of oxygen is what we commonly call a heart attack.