Angina Pain Picture

Angina Pain: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Angina pain refers to the discomfort you feel in your chest. The left side chest pain can make you worried and scared. Angina, also known as angina pectoris occurs due to reduced blood flow to the heart. Angina is described as the feeling of heaviness or tightness in the chest. The squeezing or heavy pressure feeling can make you uncomfortable. You feel like a vise squeezing your chest or feel like something heavy is placed on the chest.  It is one of the prominent symptoms of coronary artery disease. So, you must never ignore it. It requires immediate medical attention. You need to get evaluated by the doctor to understand the exact cause of the problem. It is a common pain that you can mistake for other health issues. Simple problems like indigestion or severe cases like a heart attack can also trigger chest pain. So, if you experienced unexplained chest pain, see a doctor immediately.

Causes Of Angina Pain

You suffer from angina due to the reduced flow of blood to the heart muscle. The blood carries oxygen needed for the muscles and tissues to survive, including the heart muscle. Without much oxygen to the heart muscle, you can suffer from ischemia. It results in damage or dysfunction of the tissue or muscle. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is one of the common causes of angina pain. The condition causes deprivation of enough blood to the heart muscle. It is because the arteries in your heart become narrowed due to plaques (fatty deposits). The condition is referred to as atherosclerosis.

Angina pain

The reduced blood flow due to fatty buildup can cause your arteries to narrow. So, it limits the blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart muscles. When you rest, the oxygen demand is low. So, you may not see angina signs. Your heart muscles can work properly even with a reduced amount of oxygen-rich blood. But, when you increase physical activity, it escalates the need for oxygen. So, the deprivation of oxygen to the heart muscles triggers angina pain. Most people experience the problem when they exert themselves physically (for example, exercising).

Types Of Angina Pain

You can differentiate the problem based on how it is triggered and its effects on your body. So, the condition is classified into three types:

Stable Angina

You experience pain in the chest when you exert yourself physically. So, the condition occurs during exercise, climbing stairs or walk at a brisk pace. It occurs due to the lack of enough oxygen-rich blood supply to your heart muscles. So, it becomes harder for your heart to pump blood as per the body’s requirement. Apart from physical activity, other factors can also lead to the condition:

These factors can narrow the arteries in the heart and trigger pain.

Unstable Angina

The fatty deposits in the arteries, also known as plaques can lead to blood clot formation or rupture. Such incidents can reduce or completely block the blood flow through the narrowed artery. The sudden and severe decrease of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscles can have fatal complications. It also occurs due to the development of blood clots that partially or completely block the blood vessels in your heart.

Unstable Angina

The condition is serious and life-threatening. The deprivation of oxygen to the heart can trigger a heart attack. Therefore, it requires immediate medical attention. You cannot manage the problem by just resting or using other medications. Therefore, never ignore the problem and seek prompt medical help.

Prinzmetal’s Angina

It is the condition that causes your artery to narrow down temporarily. Spasm in the coronary artery is linked to the condition. Due to the problem, your heart gets a low supply of blood. So, it results in chest pain. It occurs due to the following factors:

  • Illegal drug use
  • Smoking
  • Emotional stress

Symptoms Of Angina Pain

Angina Pain How can you detect the problem? The condition triggers certain symptoms, which indicates some underlying health issues. So, you need to look out for the following:

You need to see a doctor for a complete assessment of the condition. In some cases, angina pain may indicate a possible heart attack. It is a deadly condition requiring immediate medical attention. So, never ignore angina pain and take steps to manage the problem with the assistance of a medical professional.

Characteristics Of Different Types Of Angina Pain

Why do you get different types of angina pain? Are you are wondering about it? Then, read ahead to know more details.

Characteristics Of Stable Angina Pain

It is the most common form of pain. In most people, the condition occurs due to overexertion physically. So, it goes away when you take ample rest. People can suffer from pain during walking or exposure to cold weather. You feel pain because your heart works harder. You can see the following characteristics due to stable angina:

  • It is predictable
  • The pain you experience is similar to other types of chest pain
  • You experience pain only for a short period (less than five minutes)
  • Disappears after taking rest or using angina medication

Characteristics Of Unstable Angina Pain

When you suffer from new or different symptoms other than that of stable angina, it indicates a medical emergency. It is a more dangerous form of angina, known as unstable angina. It occurs when you suffer from a heart attack. So, you need to get immediate medical assistance when you observe the following symptoms:

  • It occurs unexpectedly
  • You can feel pain, even at rest
  • Occurs differently than stable angina
  • It is severe and lasts for a long time compared to stable angina (half an hour or more)
  • You do not feel ok with rest or use of angina medication
  • It indicates a heart attack

Characteristics Of Prinzmetal’s Angina Pain

Characteristics Of Prinzmetal’s Angina Pain

You can experience another type of angina. It is known as Prinzmetal’s angina or variant angina. It is a rare form of angina. The problem is caused by a spasm in the heart’s arteries. So, it results in a temporary reduction of oxygen-rich blood flow. It is characterized by the following signs:

  • It is severe
  • Happens when you rest
  • You get relief by using angina medication

Angina Pain In Women

In women, the angina pain and signs differ from the classic problem. So, the differences can confuse, leading to a delay in getting treatment. For example, in most cases, chest pain is common among people suffering from angina. But, women may experience it. Women experiencing the problem can suffer from signs like:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Discomfort in the back, neck, and jaw
  • Feel stabbing pain in the chest

If you suffer from left side chest pain for more than a few minutes, then you need to seek medical attention immediately. It is a sign that something is seriously wrong. So, arrange for transportation and visit emergency services. Never drive yourself as it has high risk. People suffering from angina pain for the first time need to consult a doctor. It is to unearth the actual reason triggering the pain. So, based on the diagnosis, you need proper treatment to manage the condition.

Risk Factors Associated With Angina Pain

You face an increased risk of developing angina pain due to several factors. You face the risk of coronary artery disease due to the following:

Use Of Tobacco/Tobacco Products

Chewing tobacco or smoking tobacco can increase your risk of heart problems. Long-term exposure to secondhand smoke can affect your heart health. It damages the interior walls of your arteries, leading to cholesterol deposits. It blocks the blood flow.


High blood sugar develops when your body fails to respond or produce insulin properly. Insulin helps your body use glucose properly. The high blood sugar levels in the blood can speed up atherosclerosis. So, it can increase cholesterol levels and cause heart problems.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure accelerates the hardening of arteries. So, it damages the arteries, leading to angina pain.

Elevate Levels Of Blood Cholesterol/Triglycerides

Cholesterol deposits can narrow the arteries in your heart as well as other parts of the body. So, it affects the supply of blood adversely. The wrong kind of cholesterol, also known as LDL (low-density lipoprotein) can increase the risk of angina and severe heart problems (like a heart attack). Triglycerides are the type of blood fat associated with your diet. The high level of triglycerides can also deposit in your arteries and cause problems.

Family History Of Heart Problems

If a close member of your family suffers from heart diseases, then you have a high risk of developing the problem. So, maintain caution if your family member has suffered a heart attack of coronary artery disease.

Older Age

Older people can experience the problem. Men above 45 and women above 55 can face the risk of the problem compared to young adults.

 Lack Of Exercise

The lack of physical activity can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. It can lead to heart issues like angina pain.


Excess body weight can lead to fat accumulation. It increases the risk of heart disease and angina. Obesity is linked to several lifestyle diseases. Due to excess fat in your body, the heart works harder to supply blood to excess tissue.


Excess stress can trigger anger problems, which can increase your blood pressure. So, the increase in hormone levels during stress can trigger angina pain or worsen it as it narrows the arteries.

Complications Due To Angina Pain

When you experience angina pain while doing normal activities, then it can indicate something serious. If you experience chest pain during walking or other normal activities, then see a doctor immediately. A heart attack is a common complication associated with the condition. So, observe caution when you see the following signs:

  • Pressure or feeling of fullness in the chest for more than a few minutes
  • The pain extends to shoulder, arms, back
  • Frequent episodes of chest pain
  • Prolonged upper abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Excess Sweating
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Fainting

Seek immediate medical attention when you see the above-mentioned symptoms.

Diagnosis Of Angina Pain

It is important to get a correct diagnosis for angina pain. It is because the abnormal left side chest pain can indicate a heart attack. So, you need to see a doctor immediately. Serious cases require immediate intervention. You need to see a medical professional for proper diagnosis and necessary treatment. Therefore, you need to undergo the following:

Physical Assessment

Your doctor performs a physical assessment as the first step to determine the underlying problem. A thorough assessment of your symptoms, medical history, and history of family problems is necessary to make a proper diagnosis. If the physician treating you suspects angina, then you need to undergo other tests.

Electrocardiogram (EKG)

It is the test that records the electrical activity of your heart. So, the test can offer insight when the heart is deprived of oxygen.

Stress Test

Stress Test

It is also known as an exercise stress test. It checks the heart function when you are exercising. During the test, your doctor checks the blood pressure readings as well as an EKG while increasing physical activity.

Chest X-Ray

It is the imaging tests that help your physician to see the structures inside the chest region and detect any abnormalities.

Coronary Angiography

Coronary Angiography

It uses dye and special x-rays to get a clear image of the inside region of the coronary arteries. It shows the path of blood flow through the arteries in your heart. So, it can detect any blocks or other issues interrupting the blood flow.

 Blood Tests

A sample of your blood is sent to the lab for testing. Your doctor orders a test for the following:

  • Sugar
  • Fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Protein Levels
  • Low or high levels of the test indicate any problems.

Treatment For Angina Pain

Treatment for angina focuses on reducing pain and lower the risk of a heart attack. It also reduces the symptoms associated with the problem. Your doctor can suggest the following, depending on the severity of the condition. First, conservative treatments are adopted. If you fail to see results, medicines and medical procedures are employed.

Lifestyle Changes

Your doctor first suggests lifestyle changes to manage angina pain. Before adopting any of the steps suggested, you need to discuss it with your doctor.

  • Control weight
  • Stop smoking
  • Check cholesterol levels regularly
  • Rest
  • Avoid large meals
  • Slow down
  • Avoid or handle stress
  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Medications

When lifestyle changes show no effect, then your doctor suggests medications. You need to take medications as prescribed by the doctor to manage the pain and prevent further complications.


Nitrates (for example, nitroglycerin) are often prescribed by doctors to manage angina pain. It widens and relaxes the blood vessels. So, it effectively reduces the intensity of angina attacks.

High Blood Pressure Medications

In some cases, your doctor can also prescribe high blood pressure medication to manage angina. The medications lower cholesterol levels and reduce high blood pressure. It is also helpful in lowering the heart rate as well as reduce strain on your heart. The high blood pressure medication can also prevent blood clots from forming.

Other Medications

Your doctor can also prescribe other medications like:

  • Beta-blockers
  • Anticoagulants
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Oral antiplatelet medicines
  • Angiotensin-covering enzyme (ACE) inhibitors

Surgical Procedures

Surgical Procedures
Coronary artery bypass surgery

In severe cases of angina pain, you need invasive surgical procedures to manage it. So, a heart specialist recommends angioplasty. It can clear the small blocks inside the arteries to reduce the risk of heart attacks. Coronary artery bypass is another procedure used to treat the condition. During the procedure, the narrowed arteries are bypassed using healthy arteries or veins from other parts of the body.

Preventing Angina Pain

Is it possible to prevent angina pain? Yes, with some simple steps in your regular lifestyle, you can prevent any heart problems. The changes you make in your daily life prevent the problems and improves the symptoms if you suffer from the problem already. So, you can make the following changes to prevent the problem:

Quit Smoking

Smoking is a bad habit. Nicotine products arm your heat and cause issues. So, you need to quit smoking. If you have trouble quitting it, then you need professional assistance to overcome the bad habit.

Poor Diet

If you consume a diet rich in trans-fat, saturated fat, salt, and sugar, then you are putting your health at risk. It increases your chances of developing heart problems. So, try to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Add lean meats, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products to provide the body with vitamins and minerals.

Include Physical Activity

Increase your physical activity. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise. You need to aim for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. It is also essential to include strength training (at least 10 minutes) twice a week. Stretching is also necessary to improve your health. So, include it three times every week (5-10 minutes).

Shed Excess Weight

Excess weight can trigger several illnesses. So, try to shed some pounds to improve your overall health. You need to include diet and exercise to maintain a healthy weight. A good balance of what you eat and the amount of physical activity you get will help maintain good health.

Manage Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions can trigger heart problems. So, you need to manage problems like

  • Diabetes
  • Elevated cholesterol levels
  • High blood pressure

You need medical assistance to manage the problem and prevent it from escalating into heart issues.

Avoid Stress

Stress can create havoc in your body. So, you need to try to avoid stress. But, draining stress from your body is not an easy task. So, you need to learn stress reduction techniques. It will help you relax and regain control of your body.

Limit Alcohol

Drinking alcohol daily can put your body at risk of several problems. It also causes issues like angina pain. So, you need to limit your alcohol consumption. Men need to restrict themselves to two drinks or less a day while women must limit alcohol consumption to one drink a day.

Flu Shot

You need to get the annual flu shot. It prevents any heart complications occurring due to viral infection.


You need to see a doctor immediately for angina pain. With a proper diagnosis, your doctor can suggest treatments to prevent escalation of the problem. The doctor starts with the conservative steps that require less money and recovery time. If you see no results, then you need an invasive medical procedure to treat the problem. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can prevent the problem and control the issue well enough. So, never ignore the symptoms and get treatment as early as possible.

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