Stable Angina vs. Unstable Angina | Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

One of the main challenges in diagnosing heart conditions is the differentiation between stable and unstable angina.
Although unstable angina eventually occurs on top of stable angina -and rarely the patient starts with unstable angina-, the symptoms, signs, prognosis, and even the treatment are different between the two types. The main hallmark of angina is pain or discomfort.
The differentiation between the two types based on the character and duration of pain remains the focus of history taking from patients.

With that said, in this article, we will sort out the main differences between the two types according to their main points of comparison

Cause and pathophysiology

The cause of stable angina is the gradual accumulation of fatty plaques in the arteries’ walls, which is called atherosclerosis.
It results from many factors, including obesity, diabetes, smoking, hypertension, and physical inactivity.
On the other hand, unstable angina results from a sudden drop in the heart’s blood supply either due to severe vasoconstriction of the blood vessels or the formation of a blood clot within the vessel due to the rupture of a plaque, or a combination of both.