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Unstable Angina

Unstable angina is a condition in which your heart doesn't get enough blood flow and oxygen. It may be a prelude to a heart attack.

Angina is a type of chest discomfort caused by poor blood flow through the blood vessels (coronary vessels) of the heart muscle (myocardium).

Coronary artery disease due to atherosclerosis is by far the most common cause of unstable angina. Atherosclerosis is the buildup of fatty material called plaque along the walls of the arteries. This causes arteries to become less flexible and narrow, which interrupts blood flow to the heart, causing chest pain.

At first, angina may be considered stable. The chest pain only occurs with activity or stress. The pain does not become more frequent or severe over time. Unstable angina is chest pain that is sudden and gets increasingly worse.

The chest pain:
Occurs without cause (for example, it wakes you up from sleep)
Lasts longer than 15 - 20 minutes
Responds poorly to a medicine
May occur along with a drop in blood pressure or significant shortness of breath

Symptoms include:
Sudden chest pain that may also be felt in the shoulder, arm, jaw, neck, back, or other area
Pain that feels like tightness, squeezing, crushing, burning, choking, or aching
Pain that occurs at rest and does not easily go away when using medicine
Shortness of breath

Lifestyle changes can help prevent some angina attacks. Your doctor may tell you to:
Lose weight if you are overweight
Stop smoking

You should also keep strict control of your blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol levels.
Some studies have shown that making a few lifestyle changes can prevent blockages from getting worse and may actually improve them.

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