Stable Angina vs Unstable Angina: What’s the Difference?

Stable Angina vs Unstable Angina What’s the DifferenceAngina pectoris is the medical term for chest pain caused by Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). Angina is usually felt as pressure in the chest, but may radiate to the shoulders, arms, back, neck, or jaw. Angina itself is not a disease, it is merely a symptom of underlying heart disease.

The two most common types of angina are stable angina and unstable angina.

Both types of angina occur when the heart is overworking, but here’s the difference:

Stable Angina

The most common type of angina, stable angina, is considered “stable” because it is predictable: it usually occurs with activity or emotional stress. However, anything that requires the heart to work harder or reduces how much oxygen it receives, can precipitate an attack of angina. Triggers can include unusually cold weather or even a very large meal. The pain of a stable angina attack does not get worse over time, and usually goes away after a few minutes of rest, or after taking angina medication.

While stable angina is not as serious as unstable angina, it can be very painful, and indicates an increased risk of heart attack. For that reason, Medicare and other insurers will pay for cardiac rehabilitation for beneficiaries who have a current case of stable angina.

Unstable Angina

Unstable angina follows no pattern. It can occur with or without physical activity, and is not relieved by rest or angina medication. Unlike stable angina, the pain of unstable angina can get worse over short period of time.

Unstable angina is an emergency condition, and is often a precursor to a heart attack. If someone is suffering from an attack of unstable angina, it is important to get them emergency treatment right away.

At Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ, we specialize in cardiac rehabilitation. Our SMART rehab program uses state-of-the-art techniques and equipment to get cardiac patients back to their best possible health.

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