Angina (or angina pectoris) is a symptom caused by coronary artery disease of the heart. The heart it is a muscle that needs oxygen and nutrients to work propperly. This oxygen and nutrients come through the coronary arteries (arteries of approximately 2 to 4 mm diameter). Because of age and especially because of the so-called cardiovascular risk factors (smoking, cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, obesity … etc..) fat and other substances can settle on the walls of these arteries generating narrower zones (called stenosis) that limit the normal blood flow blood. At rest the flow through these narrow areas may be sufficient to maintain the function of heart cells. However during effort, when the heart needs more oxygen and nutrients to beat faster and harder. Thus, if the narrowing is significant (approximately 70% of the diameter of the artery or more), during effort not enough blood reaches the heart cells and angina pectoris appears.
The most common symptom is pain during exercise in the center of the chest or in the stomach region that may spread to the neck / jaw, shoulder and left arm or other areas. Chest is very often accompanied by cold sweat. Symptoms usually go away when you stop making the effort.
If angina is not diagnosed and treated early, these lesions of the coronary arteries may progress, symptoms can appear with minimal exercise and eventually become a complete blockage of the artery leading to an infarction.