What is Angina: Chest Pain, Symptom, Causes, Treatment

Angina is chest pain that occurs and disappears. There are various types of angina. Unstable angina is the most common type of angina caused by coronary artery disease. Rest and medication can alleviate angina and improve the quality of life. Severe or unexpected angina is an indication of heart disease and requires immediate medical treatment

What is Angina pectoris?

Angina pectoris is chest pain due to an inadequate supply of oxygen to the heart muscle. The pain is typically severe and crushing. And it is characterized by a feeling of pressure and suffocation just behind the breast bone. Angina can accompany or be a precursor of a heart attack.

In angina, arteries can narrow due to plaque deposits and it may be especially prevalent during physical exertion due to the heart`s increased demand for oxygen. It may also occur if the coronary arteries are inflamed, infected, or injured.


The most common cause is a blockage somewhere in the coronary arteries, the arteries that supply blood to the heart. A person is at a higher risk of developing angina if they have:

  1. Higher blood pressure
  2. Diabetes
  3. High cholesterol
  4. A history of heart disease
  5. A sedentary lifestyle

Other risk factors include:

  1. Smoking
  2. Obesity
  3. Age
  4. Stress
  5. Inflammation
  6. Metabolic syndrome 
  7. Movement is insufficient (physical inactivity)
  8. tobacco products 
  9. Drug abuse

See also: Top 10 Foods For Healthy Heart: Try These Foods to Make Your Heart Healthy

Types of Angina-

  1. Stable angina – is characterized by regular episodes of pain triggered by physical activities or exercises, smoking, eating large meals, or extreme measures. This occurs because the arteries have accumulated deposits, narrowing the pathway for blood to move through.
  2. Unstable angina – is characterized by sudden pain that doesn`t go away on its own or respond to rest or medication. This type is caused by a blood clot that blocks the blood vessels and it will cause a heart attack if the blockage isn`t removed.
  3. Variant angina – is caused by a spasm in a coronary artery, causing it to temporarily narrow. This is a specific form of unstable angina that can occur at any time. No trigger event causes it to happen.

Angina Signs and Symptoms-

The pain full sensation that occurs during angina includes:

  1. Shortness of breath
  2. Nausea
  3. Fatigue
  4. Dizziness
  5. Profuse sweating
  6. Anxiety


There are several tests your doctor may order to help confirm whether you have angina:

  1. Electrocardiogram – each beat of your heart is triggered by an electrical impulse generated from special cells in your heart. An ECG records these electrical signals as they travel through your heart.
  2. Stress test – sometimes angina is easier to diagnose when your heart is working hard. During a stress test, you exercise by walking on a treadmill or on a stationary cycle. While exercising, your blood pressure is monitored and readings are watched on ECG.
  3. Echocardiogram – It uses sound waves to produce images on your heart.
  4. Nuclear Test – Helps to measure blood flow to your heart muscles at rest and during stress.
  5. Chest X-Ray – This test takes images of the heart and lungs.
  6. Blood Test – Certain heart enzymes leak out into your blood if your heart has been damaged by a heart attack. Samples of your blood can be tested for the presence of these enzymes.
  7. Coronary Angiography – Uses X-Ray imaging to examine the inside of your heart`s blood vessels. It`s part of a general group of procedure known as cardiac catheterization.
  8. CT Scan – An X-Ray tube inside the machine rotates around your body and collects images of your heart and chest. Which can show if any of your heart arteries are narrowed or enlarged.

Treatments –

If lifestyle changes alone don`t help your angina you need to take medication these mat include:

  1. Nitrates
  2. Aspirin
  3. Clot preventing drugs
  4. Beta-blockers
  5. Calcium channel blockers
  6. Blood pressure–lowering medication
  7. Medical procedures and surgery contain:
    • Angioplasty
    • Coronary artery bypass surgery

It`s a treatment option for both unstable anginas as well as stable angina that has not responded to other treatments.


Angina is a common symptom of heart disease. Many people learn triggers, know when to rest, and can manage angina by knowing how to manage angina. However, angina can sometimes be a sign of heart disease. Knowing when to call for emergency help can save your life. Talk to your provider about your angina. Make sure you know the difference between normal angina and more severe symptoms that require emergency treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions-

How different is angina from a heart attack?

Angina and heart disease are the consequences of coronary artery disease. But angina does not cause permanent damage to the heart. Heart attacks do. This is because angina signals a temporary decrease in blood flow to the heart. Heart attacks cause along decrease in blood flow. During this time, part of the heart muscle begins to die.

How do I know I have angina? 

Symptoms vary from patient to patient, but generally describe dull pain, stiffness, or chest tightness in neck, jaw, arms, back, stomach, etc. It is usually caused by exercise, emotional disturbances, or after eating or in cold weather attacks. The symptoms are sometimes misunderstood as indigestion.

What can you do to naturally treat angina?

1. Eat more fruits and vegetables
2. Use whole grains instead of refined grains 
3. Reduce unhealthy fats: Neither sugar fat nor trans-fat should be absorbed
4. Choose low-fat protein sources 
5. Avoid fatty meat, bacon and fried/baked meat
6. Reduce sodium in your diet to no more than 2300mg (approximately one cup) per day.

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