Angina is a condition that affects the heart. It affects the arteries that provide the blood flow to the heart muscle. Over time these arteries can become furred up with cholesterol plaques. Cholesterol is a fatty deposit that is found in the bloodstream but which can adhere to the lining of the arteries causing them to narrow and harden.
Angina attacks occur mainly when a person is exercising or doing something that requires the heart to pump faster. As the arteries have narrowed and hardened, they are unable to expand as much as they should to allow to extra volume of blood through. This mean that the areas of the heart that are requiring extra oxygen to pump harder are deprived of oxygen and begin to suffer from oxygen deprivation.
The heart pumps blood around the body and can increase the volume it pumps as required when we exercise or are anxious, but to do this requires more oxygen. If the arteries have become narrowed, the extra blood containing the additional oxygen can’t get through to meet the demand and so the area beyond the narrowing is deprived of oxygen. This causes the pain associated with angina.
As angina is usually associated with exercise it usually goes away with rest.
It may be difficult to know the difference between an angina attack and a heart attack. If in any doubt, treat as if for a heart attack and call 999 or 112.
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