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 not enough blood flows to the heart muscle. Angina may feel like pressure in the chest, jaw or arm. It frequently may occur with exercise or stress. Some people with angina also report feeling lightheaded, overly tired, short of breath or nauseated.  As the heart pumps harder to keep up with what you are doing, it needs more oxygen-rich blood. If this demand is not 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, such as during stressful times or walking upstairs after an emotional discussion. In fact, you usually know when it might happen, perhaps during a specific exercise. 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. In contrast, if you have unstable angina, your chest pain suddenly worsens, either being more severe or occurring with less exertion or at rest.

The good news is that the symptoms of stable angina are usually short-lived and generally stop with rest or medicine. 

Because chest pain can be a sign of a heart attack, it is always best to tell your doctor about it and any other concerning symptoms. Keep in mind that there are other reasons why you might have chest pain, like 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

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Experts argue that the flu vaccine could be life-saving.

Exercising While Angry Increases Risk for Heart Attack

Oct 20, 2016

The effects of extreme emotion and vigorous exercise on the heart are multiplied when combined.

Enter the "I am CardioSmart" Contest

Oct 17, 2016

Tell us how you are living well with heart disease for a chance to win a trip for two to Washington, D.C., in March 2017!

Young Adults May Lose Interest in Sex After Heart Attack

Oct 01, 2016
High stress levels and diabetes significantly increased patients’ chances of experiencing sex problems in the year after heart attack.

ACC Partners with Google to Share Reliable Heart Health Information

Sep 20, 2016
“Ask a Doctor” feature promotes patient-provider engagement.

The Importance of Promoting Heart Health in Children

Sep 17, 2016
Experts highlight early education about heart health for prevention later in life.

Despite Statins, Familial Hypercholesterolemia Doubles Risk for Second Heart Attack

Aug 27, 2016

Study authors emphasize screening for the genetic disorder that causes dangerously high cholesterol.

Chocolate Protects Against Heart Attack

Aug 02, 2016

Three or more servings of chocolate a week reduces risk of heart attack, finds study.

Sleep Deprivation Takes a Toll on Heart Health

Jul 28, 2016

Many studies show that a lack of sleep can have a negative impact on heart health, but few have determined why.

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Cardiogenic Shock Increases Risk for Heart Patients

Jun 30, 2016
Study shows higher risk of death or rehospitalization in first 60 days after discharge; gap narrows after one year.
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Treatment Lags for Heart Attack Patients With Prior Surgery

Jun 30, 2016
Patients with history of angioplasty or who had no previous interventions are treated faster, study finds.
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Death Rate Rises Among Heart Attack Patients With Cardiogenic Shock

Jun 30, 2016
In-hospital outcomes not improving despite use of state-of-the-art measures.

"Silent" Heart Attacks Common in Middle-Aged Adults

Jun 23, 2016
Nearly half of all heart attacks go unnoticed.

Patients Shy Away From Sex After a Heart Attack, Study Finds

Jun 18, 2016
Despite being safe for most patients, many adults with heart disease avoid sexual activity.

Mediterranean Diet Helps Protect Against Heart Attack and Stroke

Jun 15, 2016
Researchers highlight the importance of choosing wholesome foods rather than avoiding nutrient-poor foods.

Night Shifts Take a Toll on Heart Health

Jun 13, 2016
A study on U.S. female nurses finds that overnight work increases risk for heart attack.
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New Decision-Making Tool Improves Patient Satisfaction with Chest Pain Treatment

May 25, 2016
A simple pamphlet helps clarify treatment options for people in the ER for chest pain.
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New Decision Tool Helps Refine Blood Thinner Use in Stent Patients

May 24, 2016

DAPT score helps weigh the risks and benefits of continued dual antiplatelet therapy after stent implantation.

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Recent Study Supports Statins to Prevent Heart Disease

May 24, 2016

A large international trial finds statins to be most effective for heart disease prevention.

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Virtual Health Programs Could Improve Global Health

May 22, 2016
An online challenge promotes physical activity and weight loss in over 60 countries.
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Stress Tests Less Useful for Assessing Heart Disease in Women than Men

May 22, 2016

Cardiac imaging proves more useful than stress tests for determining heart risk in women, finds study.

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Striking Trends Show Heart Attack Patients are Getting Younger, More Obese

May 11, 2016

Experts emphasize addressing cardiovascular risk factors like high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes earlier in life.

Heart Disease Burden Has Shifted to Southern U.S. States

May 04, 2016

The highest death rates from heart disease have shifted to the South since the 1970s.

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Investigating the Link Between Depression and Heart Attack

Apr 23, 2016

Study highlights the need to improve diagnosis and treatment for depression in heart patients.

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Immediate Beta Blocker Treatment Fails to Improve Heart Attack Outcomes

Apr 23, 2016

Beta blockers fail to reduce permanent tissue damage after a heart attack, but may have other benefits.

Featured Video

Women often experience heart attack symptoms differently than men. It's important for a woman to be able to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack and react quickly by calling 911.

Infographic: Heart Attack

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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."