Signs and Symptoms

Typically, symptoms of angina are chest pain or pressure, which may extend to the neck, jaw or arm. However, some people experience angina as shortness of breath, upper belly pain, indigestion, lightheadedness, extreme weakness or tiredness, or general discomfort.

Women and diabetics frequently have symptoms that are different from chest pain or pressure symptoms.  

When Should I Call My Doctor or Go to the Emergency Room?

Know what your angina feels like and what is typical for you so you know when to call for help. Do not wait to call 911 if your angina is worse than normal, for example more severe, more frequent or lasting longer. If any of these occur, call your health care professional right away.

Call 911 immediately if your symptoms:

  • are very severe
  • occur while at rest (not exerting yourself) 
  • do not go away 10 minutes after taking nitroglycerin under your tongue

Infographic: Heart Attack

(Click to view)

Getting help fast can save your life. Even if you are not sure your chest pain is a heart attack, have it checked out.

< Back to Overview Exams and Tests >

Published: August 2017
Editorial Team Lead: Susan A. Matulevicius, MD, FACC
Medical Contributors and Reviewers: Ashish Aneja, MBBS, FACC; Nkechinyere Ijioma, MBBS, FACC; Antoine T. Jenkins, PHARMD; Nisha Jhalani, MD, FACC; Ion S. Jovin, MD, FACC; Ajay J. Kirtane, MD, FACC; Dorothy L. Murphy, NP, AACC

Featured Video

It's important for men to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack, remain calm and quickly call 911. Under no circumstances should men try to "tough it out."

Infographic: Heart Attack

Patient Resource