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

"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.
CardioSmart News

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.
CardioSmart News

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.

CardioSmart News

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.

CardioSmart News

Virtual Health Programs Could Improve Global Health

May 22, 2016
An online challenge promotes physical activity and weight loss in over 60 countries.
CardioSmart News

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.

CardioSmart News

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.

CardioSmart News

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.

CardioSmart News

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.

Heavy Drinking Heightens Immediate Risk for Heart Attack and Stroke

Mar 16, 2016
The protective benefits of alcohol only come with moderation.

Decline in Dementia Rates Over Past Three Decades

Mar 08, 2016

Study analyzed data on trends in older adults in the Framingham Heart Study.

Texting Programs Improve Medication Adherence in Patients with Chronic Disease

Feb 26, 2016
A recent study suggests that text messaging programs double the odds of medication adherence in adults with chronic disease.

Improving Heart Attack Treatment and Prevention in Women

Feb 09, 2016

Experts address key heart attack differences in men and women.

Simple Tests Help Assess Risk for Heart Disease

Feb 09, 2016
Other health markers besides traditional risk factors can shed light on risk and treatment.

Safety of Testosterone Therapy Remains Uncertain for Many Patients

Feb 02, 2016
Use of testosterone in older men and men living with heart disease remains controversial.

Gum Disease Linked to Increased Risk for Heart Attack

Jan 28, 2016

Inflammation associated with gum disease is likely to blame, but further research is needed to understand the relationship.

Too Little Exercise Remains a Prime Concern for Americans

Jan 18, 2016
Experts reaffirm that health benefits from exercise far outweigh risks.

Heart Attack Risk Linked to Gender, Not Sex

Jan 11, 2016

In young adults with acute coronary syndrome, feminine qualities increase risk for heart events, regardless of sex.

Cardiac Rehab is Lifesaving for Heart Patients

Jan 10, 2016

Exercise-based rehab programs reduce risk for heart-related death by 26%.

Heart Disease Remains Top Killer in the United States

Jan 10, 2016

Heart disease accounts for 1 in 3 deaths, highlighting an urgent need for prevention and treatment.

Optimism Protects Patients from Hospital Readmission After Heart Attack

Dec 16, 2015
Having a positive attitude may be an important part of recovery.

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

CardioSmart Benefits

  • Sign up for personalized newsletters
  • Find fact sheets and helpful information
  • Get discussion guides for you and your doctor

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."