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

Obese Teens at High Risk for Heart Disease

May 12, 2015
Study finds that by the age of 17, most obese teens are facing potential heart problems later in life.

A National Plan to Get America Moving

May 11, 2015

Proposed changes to our physical and social environments encourage regular physical activity for Americans throughout the course of the day.

Detecting Clogged Arteries to Potentially Prevent Heart Disease

May 02, 2015

3–D testing finds nearly two-thirds of healthy, middle-aged adults have early signs of heart disease.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Rare for Adults Engaged in Sports

Apr 23, 2015

Study highlights the benefits of exercise and sports in middle-aged adults, as well as CPR training.

Is There an Exercise 'Sweet Spot' for Longer Life?

Apr 23, 2015
Two large-scale studies take a close look at meeting or exceeding current exercise guidelines, but one thing is clear: Any physical activity is far better than none.

Heart Attack Risk Especially High Among Divorced Women

Apr 17, 2015
Even women who remarried had 35% greater heart attack risk than those who were continuously married.

Strategies for Combatting Childhood Obesity

Apr 07, 2015
Early lifestyle interventions are urgently needed to stop growing childhood obesity rates.

Children of Smokers Have Increased Risk of Heart Disease in Adulthood

Apr 03, 2015

Quitting is the best approach for the health of the family, but limiting children’s exposure to smoke can help.

Exercise Prevents Fall Injuries in Older Women

Apr 03, 2015

Finnish study assesses the effects of Vitamin D and strength training in women prone to falling.

CardioSmart News

Short Hospital Stays after Angioplasty Are Often Sufficient for Older Patients

Mar 31, 2015
Study finds patients 65 or older discharged from the hospital as early as 48 hours after angioplasty following a heart attack have similar outcomes as those who stay four-to-five days.
CardioSmart News

Combined Drug Therapy Cuts Risk of Second Heart Attack

Mar 23, 2015

Study addresses the benefits of adding blood thinner ticagrelor to a preventive daily aspirin regimen.

CardioSmart News

Invasive Tests May Benefit Elderly Heart Patients

Mar 23, 2015
More conservative therapy isn’t necessarily the best option in older patients experiencing chest pain or heart attack.
CardioSmart News

3-D Imaging Improves Heart Disease Diagnosis and Outcomes

Mar 23, 2015

Cardiac CT helps doctors diagnose heart disease more accurately than standard exams, says study.

CardioSmart News

Heart Imaging Called Into Question for Mild Chest Pain

Mar 19, 2015

3-D imaging and stress tests work equally well in assessing chest pain, says study.

CardioSmart News

Delays in Treatment Worsen Heart Attack Outcomes in Women

Mar 16, 2015

Women having heart attacks take longer to seek help and face greater risk of death than men.

CardioSmart News

Antidepressants Cut Heart Risks in Half

Mar 15, 2015
Study analyzes benefits of treatment for moderate to severe depression with and without statins.

What Kind of Exercise is Best for Waist Size?

Mar 13, 2015
Both low- and high-impact exercise help us lose weight, but each provides different types of added benefits.
CardioSmart News

Same-Day Discharge after ICD Placement Shown to be Safe

Mar 11, 2015

With appropriate follow-up, eligible patients released the same day do just as well as those kept overnight.

Frailty Increases Risk of Heart Disease in Older Adults

Mar 10, 2015
Addressing early signs of frailty could help ward off heart conditions later in life.

Peanuts: A Low-Cost Food with a High Impact on Health

Mar 10, 2015
The humble legume offers heart-health benefits on par with more expensive nuts.

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.
CardioSmart News

Angioplasty for Patients with Chronic Blockages Underutilized

Feb 17, 2015
Researchers in an almost 4-year study found that angioplasty for patients with chronic blockages made up only 3.8% of the total number of angioplasties performed for stable heart disease.

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.

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