Difference Between Angina and Ischemia

Main Difference – Angina vs Ischemia

Angina and Ischemia are two common terms we often come across in the specialized branch of medicine known as Cardiology- study of the heart. The main difference between angina and ischemia is that angina is the pain or discomfort felt in your chest whereas ischemia is an inadequate blood supply to the heart. Ischemia may often cause angina. 

This article explains, 

1. What is Angina?
     – Cause, Signs and Symptoms, Types

2. What is Ischemia?
     – Cause and Complications

3. What is the difference between Angina and Ischemia?

Difference Between Angina and Ischemia - Angina vs Ischemia Comparison Summary

What is Angina

Angina is a symptom which can be defined as a chest pain, occurring due to the lack of blood supply to heart muscles. It usually follows a hardening or narrowing of the coronary arteries which are responsible for maintaining the perfusion in the heart muscle.

Blood supply to the heart is mainly done by two large arteries known as coronary arteries. In patients with long-term dyslipidemia, cholesterol and fatty deposits can get accumulated on arterial walls by the process known as atherosclerosis.

Signs and Symptoms

This pain is usually described as a heavy discomfort, dullness or tightness in the chest which could sometimes radiate along the left arm, neck, jaw or back. Some individuals can also experience,

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue and dizziness
  • Restlessness

Sometimes there can only be one or few of the above symptoms without any associated chest pain. Angina can get triggered by strenuous activities or emotional disturbances like stress and typically lasts only for a few minutes.

There are two subcategories of angina known as stable and unstable angina.

Stable Angina

     – Exacerbates on strenuous physical activity, emotional stress and less commonly following heavy meals or exposure to cold weather. Associated symptoms usually improve after few minutes on rest.

Unstable Angina

     – This is the most unpredictable form of angina which can develop without any obvious trigger, even at rest. An episode will last longer than that of stable angina and do not respond to stable angina treatments.

Difference Between Angina and Ischemia

What is Ischemia

Ischemia is caused by a reduction of blood and oxygen supply to the cardiac muscle. This is a temporary condition which can result in a myocardial infarction if the blood supply is cut off until the cardiac muscle dies in an irreversible manner.

Ischemia, itself is not a life-threatening condition unless it causes the above mentioned Myocardial infarction. Most patients who are prone to get ischemia suffer from underlying diseases like atherosclerosis where the heart muscle can compensate the inadequate blood supply at rest. But if an exertion occurs following physical activity it will no longer be able to function properly, giving rise to a permanent muscle death.

Chronic Ischemia

When coronary arteries get weakened beyond a certain limit, heart muscle tends to get a less blood supply even at rest. This is quite dangerous and can result in a progressive heart damage.

Main Difference - Angina vs Ischemia

Difference Between Angina and Ischemia

Angina is a severe tightening chest pain which can radiate to jaw, neck and along the arm. This is specifically associated with a pathology of heart.

In contrast, Ischemia is a type of heart pathology defined as a temporary loss of blood perfusion to the heart muscle, which may give rise to an Angina. Untreated ischemia could result in a myocardial infarction if the heart muscle dies following this cut down of blood supply.

Image Courtesy:

“Stroke Diagram” by ConstructionDealMkting (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

“Blausen 0022 Angina” By Blausen.com staff. “Blausen gallery 2014”. Wikiversity Journal of Medicine. DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 20018762. – Own work (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia 

About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music