Angina of the heart is pain or discomfort in the chest that occurs when the heart muscles do not get sufficient oxygen-rich blood, explains the American Heart Association. Angina pain radiates across the chest and may advance towards the arm and into the jaw, teeth and cheeks, according to MedicineNet. Angina is often a sign of coronary artery disease.
Angina is a symptom of an underlying heart condition, notes the American Heart Association. Most people notice angina discomfort while exercising, since this is the time the body requires the heart muscles to do more work to pump blood, according to MedicineNet. The symptoms usually subside when the patient rests.
The main cause of angina is cholesterol buildup in the walls of the coronary arteries, explains MedicineNet. This buildup narrows the diameter of the arteries and reduces the amount of oxygen-rich blood that flows past the blockage. Patients experience angina when the amount of oxygen in the myocardial muscles is insufficient to meet the energy demands.
Types of angina include stable angina, unstable angina, variant angina and microvascular angina, reports the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute. Risk factors for angina and heart diseases include high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol levels and obesity, notes the American Heart Association.