When the arteries that supply your heart muscle with blood and oxygen become narrowed, the blood supply to your heart muscle is restricted. This can cause the symptoms of angina. Often characterized by pain or discomfort in the chest, angina can also present as pain in the arm, neck, stomach, or jaw.

Causes Angina is usually caused by coronary heart disease, and its symptoms are often brought on by physical activity, emotional stress, extreme temperatures, or after a heavy meal. The episodes usually last only a few minutes.

Angina occurs when there’s not enough blood flow to the heart. Without enough blood, the heart doesn’t get enough oxygen. This triggers the chest pain.

SymptomsAngina symptoms vary from person to person, and can differ between genders. Symptoms may include:

  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • tightness, pressure or discomfort in the chest
  • ache or discomfort in the neck, jaw, throat, shoulder, arms or back
  • indigestion or heartburn
  • sharp, burning or cramping pain
  • vague pain (this symptom is more common in women)
  • feeling tired all the time
  • trouble getting through normal, everyday activities
  • weakness

Diagnosis Your doctor may be able to tell whether you have angina from the symptoms that you describe. They may also choose to run some tests, which could include:

  • Angiography
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG/ EKG)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Exercise electrocardiogram (Stress test)
  • Thallium or cardiolite scan
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)

TreatmentThere are several types of angina, but the most common are stable and unstable. Stable angina can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes, whereas unstable angina requires urgent attention.

Some people require treatments such as a coronary angioplasty or heart bypass surgery to help treat their coronary heart disease and angina.