Angina or heart attack? Understand the difference.

Before differentiate angina and infarction, it is good to know that the source is the same, a condition called atherosclerosis.

Our body has an immense system of blood supply with approximately 100,000 miles veins (two and half times the circumference of the earth) that carry nutrients and oxygen to all parts of the body. When clean and unobstructed blood circulates freely throughout the body and is nourished.

In atherosclerosis there is a progressive accumulation of atheroma (plaque composed of fat) and fibrous tissue inside arteries. The atheroma may obstruct the passage of blood to vital organs and thereby cut off the supply of oxygen to these organs.

All have plaques in larger or smaller amounts in the body, but the Atherosclerosis is fatal when it reaches the arteries that feed the heart and brain, organs that stand for a short time without oxygen.

Risk factors for atherosclerosis

  • Age – the risk increases with age.
  • Gender – Men are more likely to develop heart disease than women, which tends to equalize after menopause.
  • Family History – Children of cardiac patients have higher risk of having heart disease.
  • Race – African Descent, Hispanics, American Indians, Hawaiians and Asians assimilate Western customs, have increased risk of heart problems.

Factors that increase the risk

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Increased Cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Kidney Disease
  • Drug Abuse
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary


Atherosclerosis is an insidious disease which in some cases may have no symptoms. But in most cases the patient feels: – Pain and discomfort in the chest (angina) – Fatigue – Shortness of breath – Weakness

What is angina?

It is a sign of coronary ischemia (insufficient blood supply to the heart) of painful demonstration in the center of the chest that migrates to the shoulder and left arm going to the toes. It may also radiate to the left side of the neck, jaw, stomach and occasionally in the back region.

It usually occurs after physical stress or great irritation. Disappearing when the person rests and calms down. Patients already on treatment typically use a drug during crises (Norvasc or nitroglycerin).

When atherosclerosis reaches the point of total obstruction of the blood vessel near the heart arteries, acute heart attack or myocardial infarction occurs.