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

Southern Diet Strongly Linked to Heart Disease

Sep 02, 2015
Excessive sugar and saturated fats are to blame for the negative impact on heart health.

Obese Patients More Likely to Receive Preventive Meds

Aug 25, 2015
This study investigates the link between obesity, medications to help mitigate heart disease risk, and what is known as the “obesity paradox.”

Economic and Social Forces Have Big Impact on Heart Health

Aug 21, 2015
The American Heart Association has issued a scientific statement addressing social factors that influence risk for heart disease.

A History of Trauma Places Women at Increased Cardiovascular Risk

Jul 28, 2015
Traumatic events like physical assault and childhood abuse are linked to a nearly 50% increased risk for heart attack or stroke.

Chocolate Protects Against Heart Disease and Stroke

Jul 01, 2015
Moderate chocolate consumption helps, not harms, cardiovascular health.

Action, Not Advice, Helps Smokers Quit

Jun 25, 2015
Creating a quit plan and providing tools for ongoing support is more effective than education alone in helping smokers quit.

Education and Income Closely Linked to Heart Disease Risk in African-Americans

Jun 15, 2015
Findings suggest that the lifestyle factors that come with higher income can reduce risk for heart attack and stroke.

Cash Incentives Help Smokers Quit

Jun 03, 2015
Rewards-based programs are much more appealing than deposit-based programs, which require smokers to risk their own money.

Low-Dose Aspirin Safest for Heart Attack Survivors

Jun 03, 2015
Study finds low-dose aspirin is just as effective and carries less risk of complications than high-dose aspirin in heart attack patients.

Few Patients Well-Informed When Considering Heart Procedure to Relieve Chest Pain

May 29, 2015

When patients are well-educated about the decision, fewer decide to undergo the procedure.

Strong Grip Indicates Better Heart Health

May 29, 2015
Grip strength is a simple and affordable way to assess health, including risk for heart disease and stroke.

Complications From Heart Drugs More Common in Women than Men

May 26, 2015

Gender differences in the safety and efficacy of heart drugs are widely overlooked despite women having increased risk of complications.

Mediterranean Diet Improves Memory and Brain Function

May 26, 2015
A diet rich in olive oil and nuts may improve brain function and reduce risk for dementia.

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.

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