What Causes Angina?

by Jodee on August 15, 2009

Angina refers to chest pain that occurs when the heart muscle is deprived of the oxygen-rich blood that needs to function properly. The events that can trigger an angina attack vary, depending on the type of angina that a person has. A buildup of plaque in the arteries surrounding the heart can restrict blood flow and lead to angina. For some people, walking up stairs is enough to trigger an angina attack. Other events that can cause this type of chest pain include:

  • Emotional stress
  • Extreme temperatures (either hot or cold)
  • Heavy meals
  • Smoking

Other angina sufferers may be feeling the effects of a spasm in a coronary artery. This condition, called variant angina, occurs when the blood flow to the heart is slowed or stopped. Other triggers for variant angina include the following:

  • Cold temperatures
  • Medications that cause blood vessels to tighten up
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Use of cocaine

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