The condition’s full medical name, angina pectoris, simply means pain in the chest, and it occurs because some muscle fibers in the heart are not receiving the oxygen they need. This happens as a result of narrowing of the arteries, but people don’t’ usually get any symptoms until the problem is quite advanced – when the arteries have narrowed by more than 70 percent and blood flow to the region of the heart they supply is drastically reduced.
Chest pain caused by angina often comes on when the heart’s demand for oxygen increases even slightly and exceeds the blood supply to the heart, so relatively minor exercise, such as walking uphill, going out into cold air or a strong wind, or sexual activity can trigger the pain. When you stop whatever you are doing and rest or go into a warm environment, the pain should gradually ease within 10 minutes.
Once the condition has been diagnosed, you will be prescribed medication to stop it even faster. If it doesn’t go away or comes on when you are resting or even asleep, you should go back to your doctor as this might mean the condition has become unstable and could culminate into a heart attack.
Fatigue without chest pain may also be a sign of a problem and should be brought to your doctor’s attention. Normally, angina doesn’t damage the heart muscle. Once the oxygen supply is restored to the heart muscle, it recovers.