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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:49 pm
Angina (anne-JIE-nah) is a painful discomfort that occurs when the muscular wall of the heart becomes temporarily short of oxygen. Coronary (Kore-roe-nare-ree) arteries fail to supply sufficient oxygen to the heart muscle, often resulting from coronary artery disease and high blood pressure. Most attacks of angina occur when exercise, extreme temperatures, or strong emotion increase the heart's need for oxygen. The main symptom of angina is pain in the center of your chest. The pain can spread to your throat and upper jaw, your back, and your arms, usually the left arm. Angina is a dull, heavy, constricting or pressure-like pain that characteristically appears when you are active, and fades when you stop activity and rest. If you believe you are suffering from attacks of angina, get early medical advice. Your doctor may suggest various tests to determine possible causes of the chest pain. If coronary artery disease is the underlying cause, it cannot be cured, but your doctor will take steps to help the angina from becoming worse. Treatment of angina consists of easing the load on the heart by losing weight and changing the diet to lower fat intake, lowering high blood pressure, and giving up smoking. In some cases, bypass surgery or coronary angioplasty may be used. If you are already under a physician's care for angina and your episodes of pain increase in frequency, length or severity, let your doctor know. For additional information, please consult a health care provider.

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