Angina Pectoris

What is it?

Angina is chest pain or discomfort that occurs when part of your heart muscle isn’t getting enough oxygen-rich blood. 

Angina isn’t a disease – it is a symptom of an underlying heart problem, most often coronary artery disease. Angina is very common with more than 3 million cases in the United States each year.

What are the symptoms of angina?

Angina feels like squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightness, or pain in the chest. It can be sudden or it can happen repeatedly over time.

When should I seek treatment?

You should see a medical professional right away if you experience any of these symptoms. Chest pain or discomfort that:

  • Occurs when your heart must work harder, usually during physical exertion
  • You’ve felt it before and the episodes of pain tend to be alike
  • Usually lasts a short time (5 minutes or less)
  • Is relieved by rest or medicine
  • May feel like gas or indigestion
  • May feel like chest pain that spreads to the arms, back, or other areas

If you’ve been told you have stable angina and start getting chest pain more easily and more often, see your doctor immediately because you may be experiencing early signs of unstable angina.

How is angina treated?

Depending on severity, angina can be treated by lifestyle changes, medication, angioplasty, or surgery. 

Normally, this type of chest discomfort is relieved with rest, nitroglycerin, or both. Nitroglycerin relaxes the coronary arteries and increases the heart's blood supply.

What are possible triggers for angina?

  • Emotional stress 
  • Exposure to very hot or cold temperatures
  • Heavy meals
  • Smoking

When to call 911

If you have any symptoms of heart attack or stroke, call 911. Do not drive yourself to the hospital. EMTs can begin life-saving care immediately before you reach the hospital.

For more information, contact us at 800-637-4033.