Angina

It’s vital to recognize symptoms and seek immediate medical care.

JoAnne M. Foody, MD, FACC, CardioSmart Editor-in-Chief
Learn more about Angina

Angina is a type of pain that occurs when there isn’t enough blood flow to the heart muscle. Angina may feel like pressure in the chest, jaw or arm. It is most often brought on by exercise or stress. As the heart pumps harder to keep up with what you are doing, it needs more oxygen-rich blood. If this demand isn’t met, you may feel pain or discomfort in your chest.

If you have what is called stable angina, this pain or tightness is often triggered by a consistent high level of activity (walking up stairs, after an emotional discussion or during stressful times). In fact, you usually know when it might happen, perhaps during a specific exercise. Even cold weather or eating large meals—both of which can make the heart work harder—can result in chest pain if you have heart disease. 

The good news is that the symptoms of stable angina are usually short-lived and generally stop with rest or medicine. Some people with angina also report feeling lightheaded, overly tired, short of breath or nauseated. 

Because chest pain can be a sign of a heart attack (for example, with unstable angina when chest pain is very sudden and happens when you are not exerting yourself), it’s always best to tell your doctor about it and any other concerning symptoms. Keep in mind that there are a number of other reasons why you might have chest pain, like after eating too quickly, acid reflux, muscle spasms or breathing issues. 

The best way to prevent angina is to adopt heart-healthy habits. You should also keep track of when your chest pain occurs, where you feel it, for how long and what seems to make it better or worse. 

Use this condition center to learn more about angina. You can keep up with the latest research, find questions to ask your doctor, and get tips to help you feel your best.

Angina News & Events

Moderate Physical Activity Benefits the Heart the Most

Feb 27, 2015

Study finds that women who exercise moderately—not strenuously—a few times a week have lower risk for heart attack and stroke.

Sauna Use Linked to Improved Heart Health

Feb 27, 2015
Study follows sauna bathers for over two decades and finds lower rates of sudden cardiac death among most frequent users.

Stress Hinders Heart Attack Recovery in Women

Feb 10, 2015

Stress helps explain differences in heart attack outcomes among men and women.

Survey: 1 in 3 Americans Prefers Shorter Life to Daily Pill

Feb 06, 2015

Researchers explore the uptake of a preventive heart disease medicine.

Running for Health? Moderation is Key

Feb 02, 2015

You don’t have to be a marathon runner to reap full benefits, according to a new study.

Study Questions Strict Sodium Guidelines for Older Adults

Jan 28, 2015

Reducing sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg a day may be excessive for older adults.

Shedding Light on a Mysterious Type of Heart Attack

Jan 28, 2015
MINOCA is a heart attack not resulting from narrowed arteries.

Ability to Process Nicotine Linked to Efficacy of Patch vs. Pill

Jan 26, 2015
How quickly smokers metabolize nicotine may impact whether the nicotine patch or Chantix works best, finds study.

Experts Emphasize the Importance of Cardiac Rehabilitation

Jan 26, 2015
Despite its value and importance, cardiac rehab is vastly underutilized by patients.

Few Patients Counseled on Sex after Heart Attack

Jan 12, 2015
Few doctors provide proper counseling about resuming sexual activity following a heart attack, despite recommendations.

Report Raises Awareness for Health Effects of Air Pollution

Dec 23, 2014
A thorough review of studies highlights the negative impact of air pollution on heart health.

Daily Aspirin Fails to Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Older Adults Free of Heart Disease

Dec 23, 2014
A large Japanese study finds no association between once-daily, low-dose aspirin and risk for heart attack, stroke or death in older adults.
CardioSmart News

New Plaque Test Helps Identify High-Risk Heart Patients

Dec 15, 2014
Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) helps identify heart disease patients at increased risk for heart attack and stroke, finds study.

Keeping Added Calories in Check: Sugars and Sweeteners

Dec 03, 2014
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Americans today consume nearly 20% more added sugar in their daily diet than they did 40 years ago.

New Drug Combination Improves Outcomes for Patients at High Risk for Heart Attack, Stroke

Nov 20, 2014
Adding the non-statin agent, ezetimibe, to traditional cholesterol-lowering therapy reduces risk in patients with acute coronary syndrome.

Risks and Benefits of Extending Drug Treatment After Stent

Nov 20, 2014
Lengthening anti-clotting treatment after stent implantation may prevent heart attacks but increases risk of bleeding, finds new study.

Head-to-Head Comparison of Big-Name diets

Nov 19, 2014
No single big-name diet is superior when it comes to long-term weight loss, finds study.

Exposure to Secondhand Smoke Overlooked in Heart Patients

Nov 18, 2014
Secondhand smoke worsens outcomes for patients living with heart disease, but is often overlooked.

Lupus Linked to Congenital Heart Defects

Nov 13, 2014
Study finds that women with lupus are almost 3 times more likely to have a child with a congenital heart defect.

Living with Chest Pain (Chronic Angina) Event in Huntington, WV

Nov 12, 2014
This series of live educational programs provides educational and peer-support resources on chronic angina for patients and caregivers.

Study Reveals Paradox of Cigarette Sales in Pharmacies

Oct 31, 2014
Patients at risk of smoking-related diseases often purchase cigarettes at the same pharmacy used to fill prescription medications.

Living with Chest Pain (Chronic Angina) Event in New Orleans

Oct 31, 2014
This series of live educational programs provides educational and peer-support resources on chronic angina for patients and caregivers.

Healthy Fats Lower Cholesterol, Despite Weight Gain

Oct 23, 2014
Healthy fats help offset the negative impact of weight gain on heart health, finds a recent study.

Rapid Weight Loss is Not So Bad, After All

Oct 23, 2014
Gradual vs. rapid weight loss has little impact on long-term weight control.

Living with Chronic Angina Event in Minneapolis

Oct 16, 2014
This series of live educational programs provides educational and peer-support resources on chronic angina for patients and caregivers.

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