What Is Refractory Angina Pectoris?


Angina pectoris is a medical condition that causes chest pain due to a lack of sufficient blood supply to the heart. Angina pectoris that does not improve despite proper treatment is considered refractory angina pectoris, a severe and disabling condition.

Refractory angina pectoris is a challenging medical condition that often impacts quality of life and increases the risk of morbidity. Refractory angina pectoris limits the ability to perform ordinary physical activities without discomfort.

What are the symptoms of refractory angina pectoris?

While the main symptom of refractory angina pectoris is chest pain not relieved by treatment, other symptoms include the following:

  • Discomfort in the chest, such as heaviness, pressure, stinging, burning or choking sensations
  • Chest pain that does not improve with deep breathing, coughing or changing positions
  • Chest pain caused by exertion, eating, exposure to cold temperatures, or stress
  • Pain in the upper abdomen, back, neck, jaw or shoulders

What are the risk factors?

Risk factors of developing refractory angina pectoris include the following:

  • A diagnosis of diffuse coronary artery disease, multiple distal coronary stenosis or small coronary arteries increases the risk of refractory angina pectoris.
  • Men are at a greater risk than women of developing refractory angina pectoris.
  • Individuals between the ages of 64 to 70 are at increased risk of developing refractory angina pectoris.
  • Individuals who have experienced a myocardial infarction and have undergone a revascularization procedure are at increased risk of refractory angina pectoris.

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