Angina (Chest Pain)
Angina (Chest Pain)

Angina (Chest Pain) Types


The types of angina are stable, unstable, microvascular, and variant. The types vary based on their severity or cause.

Stable angina

Stable angina follows a pattern that has been consistent for at least 2 months. That means the following factors have not changed:

  • How long your angina events last
  • How often your angina events occur
  • How well the angina responds to rest or medicines
  • The causes or triggers of your angina

If you have stable angina, you can learn its pattern and predict when an event will occur, such as during physical exertion or mental stress. The pain usually goes away a few minutes after you rest or take your angina medicine. If the condition causing your angina gets worse, stable angina can become unstable angina.

Unstable angina

Unstable angina does not follow a pattern. It may be new or occur more often and be more severe than stable angina. Unstable angina can also occur with or without physical exertion. Rest or medicine may not relieve the pain.

Unstable angina is a medical emergency, since it can progress to a heart attack. Medical attention may be needed right away to restore blood flow to the heart muscle.

Microvascular angina

Microvascular angina is a sign of coronary heart disease affecting the tiny arteries of the heart. Microvascular angina events can be stable or unstable. They can be more painful and last longer than other types of angina, and symptoms can occur during exercise or at rest. Medicine may not relieve symptoms of this type of angina.

Variant angina

Variant angina, also known as Prinzmetal’s angina, is rare. It occurs when a spasm — a sudden tightening of the muscles within the arteries of your heart — causes the angina rather than a blockage. This type of angina usually occurs while you are at rest, and the pain can be severe. It usually happens between midnight and early morning and in a pattern. Medicine can ease symptoms of variant angina.

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