Angina occurs when the heart muscle doesn’t get enough oxygen and results in chest discomfort or pain. Angina is not a disease but a symptom of an underlying problem. If you’re experiencing chest pain, then visit your doctor or an urgent care center for an examination. Continue reading to learn about some of the causes of angina.
Coronary Heart Disease
Also called coronary artery disease, this condition affects millions of people in the U.S. and is a result of plaque buildup in the arteries. Coronary arteries begin as smooth and elastic tissues but can develop plaque on their inner walls that makes them more narrow and rigid. The result is reduced blood flow to the heart, which can prevent it from getting as much oxygen as it requires and lead to angina.
Coronary Microvascular Disease
Sometimes referred to as small vessel disease or small artery disease, the coronary microvascular disease develops more frequently in women and in people who have high blood pressure or diabetes. This disease is associated with damage to the smallest coronary arteries of the heart, which can lead to spasms and restricted blood flow.
Coronary Blood Clots
When blood flow to the heart suddenly decreases because of small blood clots in the coronary arteries, this is called unstable angina. This type of angina is a medical emergency and can occur even at rest or during mild activity. Unstable angina is a change in a pattern of stable angina, and can also be caused by narrowed blood vessels.
Coronary Artery Spasms
One of the less common causes of angina is coronary artery spasm. This problem occurs when a coronary artery suddenly spasms and reduces the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. In severe cases, this type of angina can result in a heart attack. Cocaine abuse and coronary artery disease can cause this type of angina, but what triggers most coronary artery spasms is unknown.