Coronary heart disease, or CHD, describes what happens when your heart's blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries.
Over time, the walls of your arteries can become furred up with fatty deposits. This process is known as atherosclerosis, and the fatty deposits are called atheroma. If your coronary arteries become narrow due to a build up of atheroma, the blood supply to your heart will be blocked.
If a coronary artery becomes partially blocked, it can cause chest pains (angina). If it becomes completely blocked, it can cause a heart attack (myocardial infarction).
Angina is a pain or discomfort in your chest, arm, neck, stomach or jaw that happens when the blood supply to your heart becomes restricted usually as a result of the arteries that supply the heart muscle becoming hardened and narrowed. This clogging is called atheroma. Angina is a symptom of coronary heart disease, not an illness in itself.
Angina is your heart’s way of telling you it’s not getting enough oxygen when you’re doing something strenuous or you’re feeling under stress. Many people learn to recognise how much activity will bring on an angina attack - this is called stable angina.
It's a common condition among older adults. The exact number of people living with angina varies greatly across UK studies. A GP will see, on average, four new cases of angina each year.
Unstable angina can be undiagnosed chest pain or a sudden worsening of existing angina. It happens when the blood supply to the heart is severely restricted and angina attacks occur more frequently, with less and less activity.
These attacks may even happen at rest or wake you from sleep. They can last up to 10 minutes.
You should see your doctor urgently, and you may be admitted to hospital.