What's the Difference Between Angina, Coronary Artery Disease, and Heart Disease?

6 answers | Last updated: Nov 01, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

What's the difference between angina, coronary artery disease, and heart disease?

Expert Answers

Debra L. Braverman is a physiatrist and specialist in EECP at the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. She is the author of Heal Your Heart with EECP.

The number of different terms used for types of heart disease can be confusing. Angina is actually a symptom of coronary artery disease (CAD), which is also called coronary heart disease.

When the particles of fat and cholesterol known as plaque build up inside the coronary arteries, they block the blood supply to your heart. One of the primary symptoms of this condition is angina, which occurs when the heart doesn't get enough oxygen. It can feel like squeezing or pressure in your chest , shoulder, or neck; or you may feel a "catch" in your chest, like you can't take a deep breath without pain.

The heart is a muscle, and when it doesn't get enough oxygen because of reduced blood supply, it doesn't pump as strongly. People with angina or coronary artery disease find it difficult to stay active, because the episodes tend to occur with exertion.

There are some known warning signs. Do you:

  • Get short of breath when you climb stairs?

  • Feel tired more easily than you used to?

  • Remember a time when you used to be more active?

Then you probably have coronary heart disease and are experiencing episodes of angina.

Doctors prescribe the drug nitroglycerin, which relaxes blood vessels, sending a boost of oxygen into the blood. But nitroglycerin controls the symptom (angina) and not the cause. To treat coronary artery disease, it's necessary to remove or reduce the blockage itself. Depending on the severity of your disease, this may be important, because angina can be a precursor to heart attack.

Surgery is the traditional approach, but a noninvasive treatment known as EECP, or enhanced external counterpulsation, has been showing good results in recent studies.

Community Answers

Adjunct prof.rosellfernandez answered...

A psychiatrist is answering this? I don't think so. Please read-Stop Inflammation Now..a book on heart disease that breaks it down for the average reader to show you the complexity involved. When I saw this question my first response was oh-oh--this is way tooo complicated to be answered in anything less than one million words.! the book written by Dr.Richard M. Fleming is an eyeopener as he explains how our hearts work and he is not a follow the leader type of medical doctor specializing in heart disease--he is on the cutting edge. I have caught doctors giving wrong info too many times for my own comfort. The fields of medicine are way too narrow and specialized to have just any doctor answer this question.Having studied in medical school how the heart works is NOT sufficient if is not their specialty. My momma ? that beautiful lady in the picture lived with angina for 40 years and would have lived longer...she also had a stroke at 54. Look at the numbers and ask yourself how did that happen? answer nutrition. In the beginning first years she did take nitroglycerin if she had pain. But eventually it was no longer needed. Doctors sound intelligent, but you have to read, read and read so that you are not intimidated by their "medicalese".

Expand your horizons and read also how treatments are handled in other countries. Do not buy into the dogma.

Kzar answered...

I am not expert in medicine but i experienced angina and treated people who have it. And I saw people with heart problems and i know their complaints.

The heart is a muscle, and when it doesn't get enough oxygen because of reduced blood supply, it doesn't pump as strongly. People with angina or coronary artery disease find it difficult to stay active, because the episodes tend to occur with exertion.

This maybe yes and no.

Most angina is caused by muscle spasms or inflammation at the back that affects the diaphragm muscles. People who had a fall and hurt their sides or ribs tend to always have a pinching pain when breathing. (And this where many doctors make mistakes and usually give the wrong medicines.) If you know acupressure the problem can be solve in five - 20 minutes.

People with coronary artery disease>>>>if you have this problem then these are true:

.Get short of breath when you climb stairs? (Even for a short walk, and a little exertion)

.Feel tired more easily than you used to?

.Remember a time when you used to be more active?

......Suspect you have heart problem when your energy is 50% less than your usual ...if not your heart then maybe an advanced disease you did not listen to the pains before...

Bottineau answered...

I inherited my father's heart disease. My mother acquired it from diet, stress & heavy smoking. I cared for my father for 16 years. My mother was not aware she had heart disease and died 4 hrs. after her first heart attack. Two years after my first attack of angina which all my doctors attributed to stress, I drove myself to the hospital begging for help. Blockage was found in 2 left arteries 99.9%. I was a walking dead women! ER physiacisns do not take women seriously. I never experienced chest pain. Left arm, neck & ear pain but no chest pain. Women! Women ! Please get another opinion if no one listens to you.

Pclue answered...

@Adjunct Prof...the question wasn't answered by a "psychiatrist" but a "physiatrist". Do your research and know the difference.

Andromeda answered...

@pclue...A physiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in physical medicine, rehabilitation, and pain medicine. These spine specialists focus on the body's musculoskeletal system, which includes bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves

I'm with adjunct Prof., on this one, I agree that a physiatrist is not the MD i want answering this question. I'm currently going thru the "we can't find anything wrong with you" situation. Sharp pain in back of chest with intake of breath, continuous feeling of heartburn, heaviness in chest and a feeling as if I might choke when bending down to tie my shoes. Two EKG's and 1 emergency room visit later, they've almost convinced me that it's all in my mind, but I won't stop until someone gives me an answer, or an explanation.