Different Types of Angina Pectoris

There are three different types of angina pectoris. These include:

Stable Angina

In stable angina, episodes of chest discomfort are usually predictable. They can occur during exertion (such as running to catch a bus) or during mental or emotional stress. Normally, the chest discomfort is relieved with rest, use of nitroglycerin, or both. If you have recurring episodes of chest discomfort, you should see your doctor for a medical evaluation.

Unstable Angina

In unstable angina, chest pain can occur at any time—often while a person is resting. The discomfort may be more severe and last longer than in typical angina. The most common cause is reduced blood flow to the heart muscle because the coronary arteries are narrowed by fatty buildups. If you experience unstable angina you should call your physician immediately as this may be the rise of a more important medical condition.

Variant Angina Pectoris

Variant angina pectoris can happen at any time. Unlike typical angina, it nearly always occurs when a person is resting. Attacks can be very painful and usually happen between midnight and 8AM. Variant angina is caused by spasms in the coronary arteries. About two-thirds of people with variant angina have severe coronary blockages in at least one major vessel. The spasm usually occurs very close to the blockage. If you think you might have variant angina, please call you physician immediately.

What is angina? U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—National Institutes of Health. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, Diseases and Conditions Index. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov. Accessed May, 2010.
2. Heart disease guide. Heart disease and angina (chest pain). Web MD. http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/heart-disease-angina?page=2. Updated March 7, 2009. Accessed May 18, 2010.
3. Haber MD, Brunell TA. Angina pectoris. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/761889-print. Updated 2010. Accessed September 28, 2010.