Angina comes from the latin angere, which means to strangle, and pectoris comes from pectus, meaning chest—so angina pectoris loosely translates to “strangling of the chest”, which actually makes a lot of sense, because angina pectoris is caused by reduced blood flow which causes ischemia to the heart muscle, or lack of oxygen to the heart, almost like the heart’s being strangled which causes terrible chest pain.
Stable angina or chronic angina is the most common type of angina and it usually happens when the patient has greater than or equal to 70% stenosis, meaning 70% of the artery is blocked by plaque buildup.
This small opening that blood flows through might be enough to supply the heart during rest, but if the body demands more blood and oxygen, like during exercise or stressful situations, the heart has to work harder, and therefore needs more blood and oxygen itself.
It’s during these time of exertion or emotional stress that people with stable angina have chest pain, since the blood flow isn’t meeting the metabolic demands of the heart muscle, or myocardium.
But the pain usually goes away with rest.
In the majority of cases, the underlying cause of stable angina is atherosclerosis of one or more the coronary arteries—arteries supplying blood to the heart muscles.
Other heart conditions that might lead to stable angina are ones that cause a thickened heart muscle wall, which would require more oxygen.
This increase in muscle size can be due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy from a genetic cause, or as a result from the heart having to pump against higher pressures, as is the case in aortic stenosis, which is a narrowing of the aortic valve, or hypertension.