Simply put, angina is chest pain that occurs when the heart muscle doesn’t get enough oxygen rich blood; so angina is not a disease in itself; rather it is a symptom of coronary heart disease. Symptoms of angina in women manifest themselves when there is build up of plaque in the inner walls of the coronary arteries.
Symptoms of angina in women may vary according to the kind of angina they have. Angina is classified into the main types –
It has a regular or predictable pattern and is the most common type of angina; which is warning sign of a heart attack waiting to happen. The pain with this kind of angina is short-lived and ceases with medication.
This type of angina is not predictable and seems to follow no particular pattern. Rest and medication may also not relieve the symptoms which makes this kind of angina much more dangerous.
This is also a dangerous kind of angina – longer lasting and not responsive to medication.
Variant or Prinzmetal’s angina
This type of angina is rare and is caused by a spasm in the coronary artery but can be relived by medication.
Though symptoms can vary as per the sort of angina present, the following are the most common symptoms of angina in women –
- Pain is the principal symptom of angina – the pain could be in the arms, shoulders, jaw, throat, neck or back. It is often a kind of pain that is difficult to describe and its source is often not evident. Symptoms of angina in women usually manifest with pain in the jaw, abdomen (feeling like indigestion at times), or back. Rather than actual pain it could feel like pressure or tightness; a burning or squeezing feeling behind the breastbone.
- Shortness of breath could be another angina symptom, but this could be more common in older women or women who have conditions such as diabetes.
- Nausea or feeling sick to the stomach is often one of the symptoms. The symptoms of angina in women can sometimes be mistaken for heartburn or indigestion.
- Dizziness, lightheadedness and confusion can mark angina symptoms.
- Feelings of tiredness, fatigue and muscle weakness may be present and could actually camouflage the real symptoms of angina.
- Sweating is another common symptom.
With stable angina, the symptoms of each angina episode are similar and predictable, often following physical exertion and may feel like indigestion or gas. The pain could spread to the back, arms and so on and may last for about 5 minutes.
Unstable angina pain could occur even when at rest and may last up to half an hour. It may worsen over time and is often a precursor to heart attack. Microvasular angina may be more severe, may manifest along with fatigue, shortness of breath, and could be brought on by mental stress.
Whatever the symptoms of angina in women, no kind of chest pain or discomfort should be ignored. It should always be viewed with concern and doctor should be consulted for further investigation and diagnosis.