Angina is a symptom of heart disease. Angina happens when there is not enough blood flow to the heart muscle. This is often a result of narrowed blood vessels, usually caused by hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).

Most people feel angina symptoms in their chest. The most common symptom is chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in the chest. But you might feel symptoms in other parts of your body. Some people feel pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly, or in one or both shoulders or arms.

Other symptoms of angina include shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, lightheadedness or sudden weakness, or a fast or irregular heartbeat.

Angina can be stable or unstable. Stable angina means that you can usually predict when your symptoms will happen. You probably know what things cause your angina. Angina may be caused by activity or exertion. It also may occur during exposure to cold or times of emotional stress. Stable angina can be relieved by rest or nitroglycerin. Unstable angina means that your symptoms have changed and are not following your typical pattern of stable angina. Unstable angina may mean that you are having a heart attack.

If you have angina, pay attention to your symptoms, know what is typical for you, learn how to control it, and understand when you need to get treatment.

Current as of: May 11, 2016

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology