Does having angina mean that I have blockages in the arteries that supply my heart with blood?
Angina usually is a symptom of coronary heart disease (CHD). This means that the underlying causes of angina generally are the same as the underlying causes of CHD.
Research suggests that CHD starts when certain factors damage the inner layers of the coronary arteries. These factors include:
- High amounts of certain fats and cholesterol in the blood
- High blood pressure
- High amounts of sugar in the blood due to insulin resistance or diabetes
Plaque may begin to build up where the arteries are damaged. When plaque builds up in the arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis (ath-er-o-skler-O-sis).
Plaque narrows or blocks the arteries, reducing blood flow to the heart muscle. Some plaque is hard and stable and causes the arteries to become narrow and stiff. This can greatly reduce blood flow to the heart and cause angina.
Other plaque is soft and more likely to rupture (break open) and cause blood clots. Blood clots can partially or totally block the coronary arteries and cause angina or a heart attack.