What is Unstable and Stable Angina Pectoris, symptoms and more


What is Angina

Angina is the term used to define pain or discomfort in a person’s chest. It is not a disease, but a set of symptoms that occurs due to the low supply of blood – and, consequently, of oxygen – to the heart muscle.

It can also be called angina pectoris, angina pectoris or angor pectoris, Angina is usually triggered by the practice of some physical activity or by stress and, generally, it is an indication of a coronary disease (damage or disease in the main blood vessels of the heart) ).

What are the types

Currently, there are three classifications for Angina: stable, unstable and variant. In the event that one of them happens to you, or to someone you know, it is very important to go to an appointment with your doctor, as much as it may seem that it is nothing, Angina may be “giving a warning” that a cardiac arrest or stroke is occurring.

See below how each of them happens:

Stable angina

Stable angina occurs when pain occurs due to a trigger, such as exercise, and usually improves with medication and rest.

Unstable angina

Unstable angina, on the other hand, attacks suddenly and the pain appears without an obvious cause. Usually the pain continues even when the person is at rest and is caused by fat deposits in the arteries or even by blood clots that block them.

Angina variant

Also called Prinzmetal Angina, variant angina is caused by a spasm of one of the arteries, due to the fact that it has narrowed temporarily. This type of angina can also happen even when you are lying down and, in most cases, it is very serious.

The causes

Angina is caused by the narrowing of the arteries responsible for carrying blood to the heart. Because the blood carries the necessary oxygen for the whole body, when there is this rupture in its transport, the heart muscle ends up making a much greater effort than necessary and this ends up causing the sudden pain in the chest region.

The main causes for the narrowing of the arteries are:

  • Atherosclerosis of the arteries: a chronic inflammatory disease that is characterized by the formation of atheromas within the blood vessels.
  • Compression of the arteries by something close to them.
  • Inflammation or infections of the arteries.
  • Heart valve disease.

Risk factors

The items below can be of high risk for you to trigger angina, and it can be from one of them only or from their interrelationships.

  • Arterial hypertension;
  • A diet rich in fat and cholesterol;
  • Lack of physical exercise;
  • Tobacco;
  • Type 1 and 2 diabetes;
  • Age: Angina usually happens when you are already in middle age;
  • Family history.

Symptoms of Angina

In addition to severe chest pain, some general symptoms may be associated with angina, such as:

  • Pain in the arms, neck, jaw, shoulder or back;
  • Nausea;
  • Fatigue;
  • Lack of air;
  • Sweating;
  • Dizziness.

From these symptoms, you can differentiate whether what is happening is stable or unstable angina. Check out the characteristics of each one below:

Characteristics of stable angina

  • It usually develops when your heart works faster and faster, such as when you exercise or climb stairs.
  • It can be predicted earlier, as the pain is usually similar to the types of chest pains that you have previously had.
  • It lasts a short period of time, and can vary from 5 minutes or even less.
  • It disappears quickly if you rest or take any medication – always prescribed by your doctor.

Characteristics of unstable angina

  • It occurs even when you are at rest.
  • It is unexpected.
  • It is usually more severe and lasts longer than stable angina – the pain can happen for up to 30 minutes.
  • It can signal a heart attack.


When you notice symptoms of angina, it is best to seek medical help – it may be that of a general practitioner or, if you have a history of heart disease, that of a cardiologist.

At first, a clinical examination is done, which detects typical symptoms. However, if Angina occurs without your typical pain or if heart problems have not occurred previously, the doctor may order some tests:


In this test, electrical signals are traced to let you discover how your heart works.

From the electrocardiogram , the doctor can look for patterns between beats to see if the flow of blood pumped has been eased, stopped or if you are having a heart attack.

Stress test

In a stress test, you exercise either on a treadmill or on a bicycle and, during exercise, your blood pressure is monitored.

If you demonstrate that you are unable to exercise, medications may be applied to you to make your heart work harder to simulate the exercise so that the test is done.


On an echocardiogram , sound waves reproduce images of your heart.

Through them, your doctor can check for areas in the organ that have been damaged by poor blood circulation. It is usually done during the stress test.

Nuclear stress test

This test helps to measure blood flow to the heart muscle at rest and also during the stress test.

The nuclear stress test is similar to the stress test, with the only difference being the injection of a radioactive substance into your bloodstream that causes points of light to appear in monitored images, identifying if there are lesions in your heart.

Chest X-ray

From the x-ray , the doctor can check if your heart is enlarged, thus causing the typical symptoms of angina.


Some enzymes analyzed via blood tests indicate that your heart has been damaged by a heart attack.

Coronary angiography

Through this examination, x-ray images are used to examine the inside of your heart’s blood vessels. They are analyzed in detail using a type of dye injected into the vessels of the heart.

Cardiac computed tomography

In a cardiac CT scan, an x-ray tube inside the machine rotates around your body, taking images of your heart, whether or not it shows whether an artery is narrow or whether the organ is dilated.

Treatment for Angina

In most cases, the control of angina occurs through the use of medications previously prescribed by the doctor. However, in some cases, it is necessary to resort to surgical procedures, such as the implantation of bridges in coronary arteries or angioplasty (introduction of an inflated balloon in the narrowed coronary arteries in order to expand them).

Medicines used to control angina:

  • Amiodarone ;
  • Ancoron ;
  • Aspirina Prevent;
  • Atenolol;
  • Atorvastatin Calcium ;
  • Beslodato de Anlodipino ;
  • Carvedilol;
  • Clexane;
  • Concor ;
  • Cordil ;
  • Enalapril;
  • Hexomedine;
  • Isordil;
  • Isossorbida;
  • Lipitor;
  • Monocordil .


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Possible complications

If Angina is not treated soon, serious complications can happen. The most serious, among them, are heart attacks and strokes. However, the stress of living with this condition can constantly impact the person’s emotional health, even causing depression .


Some preventive measures against Angina can be taken in your daily life:

  • Stop smoking if you do;
  • Always maintain a healthy weight;
  • Control diabetes;
  • Avoid exaggerating meals;
  • Avoid stress through techniques suggested by your doctor;
  • Have a healthy diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables;
  • Begin exercising.

By making use of them in your daily routine, the likelihood of the condition developing in you is much less. So don’t ignore them and practice them. Also, share this text with your friends, because the more people who know this information, the better!