Angina, technically called Angina pectoris, is a temporary pain or tightness that can start in the chest (and spread to other parts of the upper body). It happens when the work of the heart and arteries cannot supply enough oxygenated blood.

Heart Help has listed below some articles in lay terms to help you understand it a little better. We also have some Web sites listed if you would like even more information.

Index of Articles
(Click on Title)

Symptoms & Signs of Angina
Causes of Angina
What to do, If...
How to Avoid Angina



Symptoms and Signs of Angina:
Not only can the symptoms of angina vary from person to person, but they may vary with each episode:

It can be vague, barely troublesome ache, or severe and intense crushing pain. Sometimes patients do not perceive the discomfort as pain. It may radiate to the left shoulder and down the left arm--even to the fingers. Other symptoms may include nausea, sweating, shortness of breath or weakness.

Causes of Angina
Angina is caused by a shortage of oxygen (ischemia). It is typically caused by physical activity and subsides with rest. Altho sometimes exercise can be tolerated, sometimes it cannot. Angina is worsened when exertion follows a meal. Sometimes it can occur at night or when you are resting.

It occurs most often when the coronary arteries of the heart become narrow or clogged (atherosclerosis).

What to Do, If...

  ...You Experience Angina:

      1. STOP what you are doing. SIT DOWN and REST. If the symptoms are not gone ins 2 to 3 minutes, place a nitroglycerin tablet under your tongue and let it dissolve. You may feel a sense of stinging under your tongue, this means it is working to help relieve the angina
      2. Wait 3 to 5 minutes. If your angina is still present, take a second nitroglycerin tablet.
      3. Again, wait 3 to 5 minutes. If the symptoms remain, take a third nitroglycerin tablet.
      4. If your angina has not subsided after the third nitroglycerin tablet or after 15 minutes since you first began experiencing discomfort, call an ambulance or have someone drive you to the nearest emergency room.


    CALL YOUR PHYSICIAN WITHIN 24 Hours for any of the following:

  • This is the first time you have ever experienced angina
  • You experience angina while resting
  • Your angina is occurring more frequently, has changed location, or is more severe than in the past
  • The nitroglycerin tablets do not work as quickly as they have in the past
  • Your angina has awakened you during the night
  • Your angina has reoccurred following cardiac catherization, angioplasty, or open heart surgery procedures

What Can I Do to Avoid Angina?

Medication can help control angina and making some life-style changes that lower the heart's workload and reduce stree. Other things you can do are:

  • Stop smoking (it makes the heart work harder)
  • Lose excess weight
  • Start an exercise program
  • Lower blood cholesterol levels
  • Avoid eating heavy meals and rest after eating

How to Avoid Angina
Some people can control their angina by following their medication regimen prescribed by their physician and by making life-style changes that lower the heart's workload and reduce stress. Other things you can do may include:

Above article courtesy of Penn State, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center (Cardiovascular Center). See Link Above.

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Last Modified on August 24, 2007

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should not be misconstrued as medical advice.
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