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What Causes Chest Pains aka Angina

Learn what causes chest pains, aka angina, from Dr. Dennis Finkielstein in this Howcast video.


So what causes angina, or angina? Well, angina is the word we use to reference chest pain or pressure in the heart or chest area. Unfortunately, the body may not be very good at telling exactly what's causing the pain from our internal organs.

When we get hurt externally, we can localize and know what is causing the pain right away. Internally, our body sends off vague sensations that we have to interpret. The symptoms can often be described as pressure-like, or squeezing of the chest. Those symptoms may radiate, or travel, to the neck, jaw, or left arm.

The symptoms of angina often come on when we are exerting ourselves. At its very core, angina or chest pain or pressure, comes on when the heart muscle is not getting enough blood flow to meet its demand. There are many causes of this, but the most common would be a build up of cholesterol plaque within the arteries of the heart. The build-up of cholesterol plaque in the arteries of the heart is called atherosclerosis, and the risk factors can be high blood pressure, high cholesterol, lack of exercise, and smoking.

People feel angina in many different ways. Some people describe the symptoms as chest pressure or squeezing, others just have a vague sense of discomfort in the chest. Usually, the symptoms come on when exerting ourselves, such as going up a flight or two of stairs, or trying to run and catch the bus, or during running or exercise. The symptoms may be brief, such as 5 minutes or less, or may last longer. Anyone who is having symptoms that last more than 10-15 minutes, should seek medical attention.

Chest discomfort can be caused by a lot of different things. Sometimes it's from the heart. Other times, it can be coming from other things inside the chest wall. Things like heartburn or gastritis or reflux, chest wall discomfort that we often call costochondritis, or anxiety or stress. The important thing would be to talk to your doctor about the symptoms, and let your doctor decide whether or not these symptoms may be coming from your heart. So angina, or angina, would be any symptom of chest discomfort, whether it's pain or pressure, coming from the heart area.

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