Angina symptoms, causes and treatment

Angina (an-JIE-nuh or AN-juh-nuh) is a kind of chest discomfort that is triggered by the decreased blood flow to your heart. It is also a sign of coronary artery illness.

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It is also called angina pectoris that is usually described as pressure, squeezing, tightness heaviness, or soreness in the chest. People who have angina signs refer to angina as having an experience where a vise seems to pinch the chest, or they are experiencing like a massive weight is put on the chest. In this case, angina might be a different kind of pain that requires assessment by a physician, or chronic pain that could go away with medication.

Although it is relatively normal, it could still be difficult to differentiate from other kinds of chest discomfort, as the discomfort or pain of indigestion. In case you are experiencing inexplicable chest pain, immediately seek out medical attention.


The angina is triggered by the decreased blood circulation to the heart muscle. The blood brings oxygen, which is needed by the heart muscle to survive. In case the heart muscle is not getting adequate oxygen, it can cause a condition known as ischemia.

The most widespread cause of lowered blood circulation to the heart muscle is CAD or coronary artery illness. Plaques of fatty deposits could narrow the heart arteries. This is known as atherosclerosis.

This lowered blood circulation is a problem of supply — the heart is not receiving sufficient blood rich in oxygen. Perhaps you ponder why you do not have angina in case the heart arteries were narrowed as a result of fatty build-up.

This is due to the fact that during periods of low levels of oxygen demand — like when you are resting, your heart muscles can get by given the decreased quantity of blood circulation without having to trigger the symptoms of angina. However, when you raise the need for oxygen, like when you are exercising, this could trigger angina.

  • Stable angina. This is typically caused by physical force. When climbing the stairs, walking, or exercising, the heart commands for greater blood, but it is harder for muscles to get ample blood when the arteries are being narrowed. 
  • Unstable angina. In case the fatty deposits in the blood vessel get ruptured or there is a blood clot, it can immediately reduce or block the flow through the narrowed artery, thus reducing blood circulation to the heart muscle. 
  • Prinzmetal’s angina. For this type of angina, it is caused by a spasm in the coronary artery where the artery momentarily narrows. The narrowing lowers blood flow to your heart, thus causing chest pain. Smoking, emotional stress, and the use of illicit drugs like cocaine could trigger this kind of angina.

Diagnosis and Treatment

When diagnosing angina, the doctor starts by conducting a physical exam and inquiring about the symptoms you are having. You will also be asked about risk factors, like whether you have a heart disease history, etc.

There are numerous tests that the doctor may request to help verify whether or not you have angina:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). Every beat of the heart is caused by an electrical impulse created from special cells in the heart. The electrocardiogram documents these signals as they go through the heart. 
  • Stress test. There are times when angina is simpler to detect when the heart is working more. During the time of a stress test, you will exercise by pedaling a stationary bicycle or walking on a treadmill.
  • Echocardiogram. The echocardiogram makes use of sound waves to create images of your heart. The doctor could use the images to pinpoint angina-related difficulties, like if there are parts of the heart muscle that were damaged by inadequate blood flow. 
  • Nuclear stress test. This test helps measure the flow of the blood to heart muscle both during stress and at rest. It is like a routine stress test; however, in a nuclear stress test, radioactive material is being injected into the bloodstream.
  • Chest X-ray. The test captures images of the lungs and heart. This is done to look for other circumstances that may explain the symptoms and to find out if you have an expanded heart.
  • Blood tests. Particular heart enzymes gradually leak out into the blood if a heart attack has harmed the heart. 
  • Coronary angiography. It uses X-ray imaging to assess the inside of the heart’s blood vessels. It is part of a group of processes called cardiac catheterization.
  • Cardiac computerized tomography (CT) scan. With this, you will lie down on a table inside of a doughnut-shaped apparatus. Then an X-ray tube inside of the machine will rotate around the body and then collects the images of the chest and heart, which could show if any of the heart’s arteries have been narrowed or if the heart is enlarged.
  • Cardiac MRI. You lie down on a table inside of a long tube-like machine that generates detailed images of the blood vessels and the heart’s structure.


There are numerous treatment options for angina, including medications, lifestyle changes, coronary bypass surgery, or angioplasty and stenting. The objectives of treatment are to lessen the severity and frequency of the symptoms and to decrease the threat of death and heart attack.

But, if you have angina pain or unbalanced angina that is different from what you typically have, like occurring when you are at rest, you must get immediate treatment.

What are the normal conditions (see section how much fluid do you need in a sample)?

If you have chest pain for the very first time, seek out medical attention at once. If you have been identified to have angina and you have unusual symptoms, or if your medicine is not working, visit a healthcare professional immediately. You might be experiencing emergency symptoms of a heart attack. 

When does it happen?

  • Usually, during the stress of physical activity.
  • When in an extremely cold place.
  • After having large meal portions.

Heart attacks could happen anytime.

What does it feel like?

Heart attack and angina may feel similar. Both might cause:

  • Discomfort or pain that could spread to the jaw, chest, arms, shoulders, and back.
  • Burning, heaviness, chest tightness, difficulty in breathing, and feeling of squeezing.

Angina would sometimes cause paleness, trigger dizziness, weakness.

Heart attack signs often include weakness, nausea, throwing up, tiredness, or sweating.

How long does it last?

  • 3-5 minutes or even up to 30 minutes
  • Can be relieved by medication or rest

Heart attacks normally last for over 30 minutes.

Risks of Having Angina

Below are risk factors that increase the danger of angina and coronary artery illness:

  • Tobacco. Smoking, chewing tobacco, and long-term coverage to secondhand smoke harm the interior walls of arteries, including the arteries to the heart, thus allowing accumulations of fat to gather and prevent blood circulation.
  • Diabetes. It is the failure of the body to generate enough or react to insulin appropriately. Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas that allows the body to utilize glucose, which is a type of sugar coming from food. Diabetes raises the danger of the coronary artery illness that could lead to heart attacks and angina by running up atherosclerosis, as well as increasing the cholesterol concentrations.
  • High blood. This is decided by the quantity of blood the heart probes and the quantity of opposition to blood circulation in the arteries. Through time, the high blood tension harms arteries by speeding up the hardening of arteries.
  • High blood cholesterol. Cholesterol is considered as a foremost part of deposits that could narrow the arteries in the body, involving those that provide your heart. High levels of wrong kinds of cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol increases the danger of heart attacks and angina.
  • Heart disease history. In case a member of the family has coronary artery disease or had an attack, you are at a larger risk of forming angina.
  • Age. Men who are over 45 years old and women over 55 are at a larger risk compared to younger adults.
  • Not enough exercise. Inactive lifestyles contribute to high blood, high cholesterol, obesity, and type-2-diabetes. But it is crucial to consult with a doctor before beginning an exercise plan.
  • Obesity. The threat of heart disease and angina disease is linked with a high level of blood pressure, high blood cholesterol concentrations, and diabetes. At the same time, the heart has to work more to provide blood to the extra tissue.
  • Stress. Stress will likely increase the danger of heart attacks and angina. So much stress and anger can also raise blood pressure. Rises of hormones created during stress could narrow the arteries and exacerbate angina.

When to Seek Medical Help

In case you are suffering from chest pain, and it lasts longer than a few minutes and does not go away when you take a rest or ingest your angina medicines, it can be a sign that you have some heart attack. Immediately call 911 or seek medical help. Organize for transportation. 

If your chest discomfort is a new kind of symptom for you, it is vital to see the doctor to know what is causing the chest pain and to receive proper treatment. If steady angina becomes worse or there are some changes, be sure to seek medical care immediately.