Angina Pectoris

What is Angina Pectoris?

Angina pectoris is chest pain or discomfort due to reduced oxygen supply to the heart, which is usually caused by coronary heart disease. People with angina typically experience tightness, pressure, or a squeezing sensation in their chest that can also radiate to other areas of the upper body, such as the neck, shoulders, arms, back, or jaw. Angina is usually a symptom of an underlying heart condition, such as coronary artery disease, and can be a warning sign of a heart attack.

Signs and Symptoms of Angina Pectoris

The main symptom of angina is chest pain or discomfort. It may be described as:

  • squeezing
  • pressure
  • aching
  • burning
  • heaviness
  • tightness or fullness

The chest pain may also radiate to other areas of the body, such as the arms, shoulders, back, neck, or jaw. Other symptoms may include rapid breathing, nausea, sweating, and lightheadedness. In some people, the only symptom of angina is shortness of breath.


Angina is usually caused by an underlying heart condition, such as coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD occurs when there is a buildup of cholesterol and other fatty deposits, known as plaque, on the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. The plaque narrows the arteries, reducing the amount of blood and oxygen that reach the heart.

When the heart does not get enough blood and oxygen, it may cause chest pain or other symptoms. This occurs typically during physical activity or moments of emotional stress when the heart requires more oxygen-rich blood than usual. These episodes of chest pain or discomfort are known as angina.


To diagnose angina, a doctor will typically perform a physical examination and review the patient’s medical history. Other tests may include an electrocardiogram (ECG) or blood tests to check for markers of heart damage.

In some cases, a stress test may be performed to determine how the heart responds to physical activity. During the test, the patient will exercise on a treadmill or bike while the doctor monitors the patient’s heart rate and blood pressure. If the heart does not respond normally to exertion, this could indicate an underlying heart condition.


Treatment for angina usually includes lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, reducing stress, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet. Medication may also be prescribed to help prevent and treat angina. These medications can include nitrates, beta-blockers, and other heart medications.

In some cases, a doctor may also recommend a procedure to open blocked arteries, such as angioplasty or stenting. These procedures involve inserting a small tube into an artery to widen it and improve blood flow to the heart.