Symptoms of Angina


General information about symptoms of Angina: The symptom information on this page attempts to provide a list of some possible symptoms of Angina. This symptom information has been gathered from various sources, may not be fully accurate, and may not be the full list of symptoms of Angina. Furthermore, symptoms of Angina may vary on an individual basis for each patient. Only your doctor can provide adequate diagnosis of symptoms and whether they are indeed symptoms of Angina.

List of symptoms of Angina: The list of symptoms mentioned in various sources for Angina includes:

Symptoms of Angina: The first symptom of coronary heart disease may be chest1

A reduced blood flow to the heart can cause symptoms other1

An episode of angina is NOT a heart attack. However, people with angina report having a hard time telling the difference between angina symptoms and heart attack symptoms. Angina is a recurring pain or discomfort in the chest that happens when some part of the heart does not receive enough blood temporarily. A person may notice it during exertion (such as in climbing stairs). It is usually relieved within a few minutes by resting or by taking prescribed angina medicine. People who have been diagnosed with angina have a greater risk of a heart attack than do other people.2

Angina feels like a pressing or squeezing pain, usually in the chest under the breast bone, but sometimes in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaws, or back. Angina is usually precipitated by exertion. It is usually relieved within a few minutes by resting or by taking prescribed angina medicine. 3

When someone has a repeating but stable pattern of angina, an episode of angina does not mean that a heart attack is about to happen. Angina means that there is underlying coronary heart disease. Patients with angina are at an increased risk of heart attack compared with those who have no symptoms of cardiovascular disease, but the episode of angina is not a signal that a heart attack is about to happen. In contrast, when the pattern of angina changes--if episodes become more frequent, last longer, or occur without exercise--the risk of heart attack in subsequent days or weeks is much higher. 3

People with angina usually feel discomfort (often a pressure-like pain) in or around the chest, shoulders, jaw, neck, back or arms. It may feel like a squeezing, pressing sensation in the chest. Angina pain is usually caused and made worse by exercise and eased by rest. The pain usually lasts 2-5 minutes. If you have this kind of chest pain, you should contact your health care provider. You can take medicine that will help your angina. If you suspect you might be having a heart attack (see warning signs below), call or have someone else call 9-1-1. 4

Here are some signs that your angina is very serious and you may be having a heart attack. If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately:

  • Pain or discomfort that is very bad, gets worse, and lasts longer than 20 minutes.

  • Pain or discomfort along with weakness, feeling sick to your stomach, sweating, or fainting.

  • Pain or discomfort that does not go away when you take angina medicine.

  • Pain or discomfort that is worse than you have ever had before.


More symptoms of Angina: In addition to the above information, to get a full picture of the possible symptoms of this condition and its related conditions, it may be necessary to examine symptoms that may be caused by complications of Angina, underlying causes of Angina, associated conditions for Angina, risk factors for Angina, or other related conditions.

Medical articles on symptoms: These general reference articles may be of interest:

1. excerpt from Facts About Heart Disease and Women: NHLBI
2. excerpt from Frequently Asked Questions About Heart Attack: NHLBI
3. excerpt from NHLBI, ANGINA: NHLBI
4. excerpt from Angina: NWHIC

Last revision: October 23, 2003

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