Stable vs Unstable Angina

Stable vs Unstable Angina – All You Need to Know

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Have you ever experienced pain in your chest while involving yourself in any physical activity or while just sitting? If yes, you shouldn’t ignore that! It can be something serious and that is Angina!

Severe pain in the chest is called Angina. It occurs when your oxygen-rich blood ceases to flow through your heart muscles. This is one of the most common heart issues among people nowadays. Keep reading to know about the two most common types of Angina – Stable Angina vs Unstable Angina.

To begin with, let’s first understand the symptoms of angina. It feels like heavy pressure building up in your chest. This pain can also extend upto your shoulders, arms or back. Sometimes one can feel indigestion in the stomach too.

Angina is a coronary heart disease which leads to pressure or heaviness in your chest.  It can onset suddenly or can be recurring over time. Depending on its type and severity, it can be treated by lifestyle changes or medications or surgery.

If you bring some vital changes in your lifestyle, there is a chance of getting rid of Angina.. However, there are some cases where one needs to follow medications to ease out angina. In severe cases, even there is a need to do an open surgery or bypass blocked coronary arteries.

Let’s move on further to understand different types of Angina.

Types of Angina:

  • Stable Angina
  • Unstable Angina
  • Variant Angina
  • Microvascular Angina

In this blog, we will be discussing Unstable Angina vs Stable Angina – what’s the difference. So keep reading to know the difference between them.

Stable Angina:

Stable angina, often referred to as angina pectoris , is when you are involved in any physical activity or when you are pushing yourself in any physical activity and all of a sudden you experience pain or heaviness in your chest. It usually occurs when something is blocking your  arteries. Due to this kind of blockage,  there is a difficulty in fresh blood flow through them into your heart.

Unstable Angina:

Unstable Angina, often referred to as acute coronary syndrome, is an unexpected pain caused in your chest while resting or due to exertion or stress. The main cause of Unstable Angina is when your heart doesn’t get enough oxygen-rich blood.

Unstable angina is more severe than stable angina. If you suffer from unstable angina,  it is an emergency case and you should seek immediate medical check-up. If left untreated or ignored, the situation can worsen, leading to heart attack or heart failure. It can even lead to life-threatening conditions.

How are they different?

Let’s differentiate on the basis of their causes, symptoms and their diagnoses so that we can get a clear overview of  Stable angina vs Unstable angina.

Causes of Stable Angina:

Causes of Stable Angina

Lack of blood flow to the heart is the major cause of chest pain. People who are going through stable angina will experience episodes of pain while doing any physical activity or due to exertion or stress. Generally, it has been observed that these episodes are only for a short period of time and may disappear soon.

Other factors such as narrowing of the arteries are also a cause of Stable Angina. Narrowing of arteries leads to building up of plaque inside the artery walls.

Though Stable Angina is considered to be less serious than Unstable Angina, it can be sometimes painful. Both of these types are serious in nature and strict changes in your lifestyle should be done.

Causes of Unstable Angina :

Cause of unstable angina is almost similar to stable angina only. The main cause of unstable angina is lack of oxygen rich blood flow to your heart muscle. Also, sometimes consumption of oily food or heavy cholesterol rich edibles can also lead to the risk of unstable angina. Too much stress or exertion is also one of the significant causes of unstable angina.

Symptoms of Stable Angina:

While doing some kind of physical activity or exercise, if you feel sudden pain in the chest or there is some kind of heaviness or pressure being built up in the chest then that is the first symptom of Stable angina.

During this pain, you can also experience episodes of pain which can spread from your chest to arms, shoulders and back as well. These symptoms are known to be temporary in nature.

One common fact about stable angina is that it can be predicted easily. You can track the pattern and know what exactly is the reason for stable angina. Tracking your pattern will help you in finding your symptoms easily and help you in taking a note of the physical activities you are involved in.

Symptoms of Unstable angina:

Symptoms of Unstable angina

One of the main symptoms of unstable angina is pain in the chest. However, pain can also extend to the shoulder, arms or left side of back too.

Other symptoms include nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, anxiety etc.

However, it is different from Stable angina, in which the pain can be for a short period of time and that too not that severe compared to unstable angina. This is one of the most common differences between stable angina vs. unstable angina.

Unstable angina is difficult to be predicted as you cannot track your pain. You can feel the pain while sitting or resting. So, it gets difficult to track your symptoms in unstable angina.

Read on further to know more about stable angina vs unstable angina

How stable and unstable angina is diagnosed?

Physically examining the patient will be the first step to diagnose stable angina. Also, the medical history of the patient will be analyzed for the proper treatment of stable angina.

Sometimes doctors can also ask for a c- reactive protein test. If you have a high CRP level, there is a high risk of a severe heart disease.

In case of Unstable angina, doctors take a physical exam along with ECG(electrocardiogram). It is a must in case of unstable angina. This is one of the main differences between stable angina vs unstable angina.

Stress tests are also done to make your heart stronger and get the angina detected.

Coronary angiography is also done to study and check your arteries. It also helps in knowing whether there is any narrowing or blockage in arteries.


To sum it up all, unstable angina is more severe than stable angina. If you ever experience unstable angina, do not take it lightly.  You need to immediately rush to the doctor for your thorough check-up.

Read More on KulFiy:

10 Things To Do In The 20s For Healthier Heart

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