Angina

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

Martha Gulati, 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

Fruits and Vegetables Help Reduce Future Heart Risk

Nov 10, 2015
Eating fruits and veggies in your 20s and 30s reduces risk for heart disease later in life, finds study.

Young Adults, Especially Women, Don't Know Their Risk for Heart Disease

Oct 26, 2015

Only half of young adults suffering a heart attack knew they were at risk, finds study.

African-American Veterans Healthier Than White Counterparts

Oct 22, 2015

Analysis of VA data stands in contrast to health disparities in the general U.S. population.

Women Less Likely to Take Medication to Prevent Second Heart Attack

Oct 21, 2015
Women are either less likely than men to receive a prescription for preventive medication or to fill the prescription.

Alcohol-Related Injury and Disease Pose Global Health Concern

Oct 20, 2015
Excessive drinking is a major public health issue in high- and low-income countries alike.

A Healthy Lifestyle in Midlife Makes for Healthier Golden Years

Oct 13, 2015

The benefits of healthy choices carry long into older adulthood.

Music Boosts Heart Health

Oct 13, 2015
Music’s effect on heart activity, blood pressure and breathing bodes well for health.

Measuring Calcium Build-Up Helps Predict Risk for Heart Disease

Oct 07, 2015
New risk calculations include coronary artery calcification in addition to factors like age, cholesterol, blood pressure and smoking status.

Blacks Have Shorter Life Expectancy After Heart Attack Than Whites

Oct 06, 2015
The largest gaps in life expectancy among study participants occurred in higher income areas.

Enter the "I am CardioSmart" Contest

Oct 05, 2015

Tell us how you are living well with heart disease for a chance to win a trip for two to Chicago in April 2016!

Longer, But Not Necessarily Healthier, Lives

Sep 25, 2015
While life expectancy continues to rise, heart disease becomes the leading cause of disability around the world.

Deep Belly Fat Increases Cardiovascular Risk

Sep 18, 2015
Study finds that both volume and type of belly fat have an impact on heart health.

Age and Gender Differences in Heart Disease Mortality Rates

Sep 17, 2015
Despite recent drops in cardiovascular mortality rates, death toll among young adults remains high.

Flu Vaccine Reduces Risk for Heart Attack

Sep 11, 2015

A review of 16 recent studies suggests the flu vaccine offers heart protection even for adults without known heart disease. 

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.