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Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease is caused by atheroma. Atheroma is a medical term for fatty deposits within the walls of the coronary arteries. A build up of atheroma over time may lead to narrowing and blockages of the coronary arteries and this process is called atherosclerosis.

Angina Pectoris
Angina is the most common symptom of coronary artery disease. Angina is a term used for chest pain or chest discomfort. It is more common in people over the age of 50. Angina occurs when the heart does not get enough oxygen due to a reduced blood flow in the coronary arteries caused by atherosclerosis.
Angina symptoms are usually described as central pain that is crushing or choking in nature. The pain may radiate to the neck, jaws, arm, between the shoulder blades or teeth. Pain is a subjective term that means different things to different people. It has been shown that women and men think of pain differently. The term “heavy” can also correspond with “uncomfortable” or “nagging”.
Stable angina is brought on by physical exertion such as walking up the stairs or up a hill, when the heart is working harder than normal. The pain is usually relieved by rest or by angina medications.

Unstable angina is when the pain becomes more frequent or occurs at rest.

A heart attack (myocardial infarction or coronary thrombosis) occurs when a clot forms in a narrowed coronary artery. A heart attack is when an area of the heart muscle dies because it has been starved of oxygen. People having a heart attack, often have severe pain that lasts for more than twenty minutes.
Other Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of heart disease in women may be very different to those experienced by men.  There are many other symptoms apart from chest pain that women may experience. These include:

• shortness of breath
• neck and jaw pain
• upper back pain
• abdominal pain
• nausea
• fatigue
• vomiting
• indigestion like pain
• sweating

Shortness of Breath
Sudden or gradual difficulty in breathing can be a sign that there is something wrong with the heart. If you feel unduly suddenly short of breath, then you should seek urgent medical advice. If the shortness of breath has developed slowly over months and years, then you should tell your G.P.

Why is it important to get medical help quickly?

Women who suffer from chest pain usually put off calling for help, partly because they are unaware that they may be suffering from heart disease. It is important that if you think you are having worrying pain or symptoms to call for help quickly as treatment for heart attack has been proven to work better if given early.

If you think you may be suffering from heart attack symptoms, you should call 999 immediately. If you have had these symptoms in the past, it is crucial that you inform your GP.

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