Angina pectoris is a feeling of tightness, squeezing, or pain in the chest. It happens when the heart does not get enough oxygen-rich blood.
Angina can occur in men and women of any age, but it is more common among the middle-aged and older adults.
Angina may be caused by any condition that affects the blood flow to your heart, such as:
You are more likely to have angina when your heart is working harder, for example, when:
However, you can also have angina when you are resting or sleeping.
The symptoms of angina may vary from person to person. Symptoms may include:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history. You will have a physical exam. You may have one or more of the following tests:
When angina is caused by coronary artery disease, treatment often involves changes in your lifestyle. This may include:
Often the symptoms of angina can be controlled with medicine.
Your provider will determine which type of medicine is right for you based on your test results and any other medical problems you have.
Surgery and other procedures:
Angina caused by blocked arteries can be treated with:
Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is a simpler procedure than coronary bypass surgery. Your healthcare provider inserts a balloon catheter (a flexible tube) into a blocked artery in your heart to unblock it. The balloon at the tip of the catheter is inflated. The balloon opens the artery enough to let blood flow normally. The catheter is removed, but a metal mesh device called a stent is usually left in the artery. The stent helps keep the blood vessel open. You may need to stay at the hospital a day or two after the procedure. The procedure may also be called angioplasty.
In coronary artery bypass graft surgery, blood vessels are taken from other parts of your body and attached to the blocked coronary arteries on either side of the blockage. The blood is then able to flow around, or bypass, the blockages. You will likely stay in the hospital about 1 week and then recover at home for several weeks.
With treatment, the outlook for people with angina is quite good. With treatment, most people can lead a normal or near normal life.
Follow the treatment prescribed by your healthcare provider. In addition, follow these guidelines:
If your provider has prescribed nitroglycerin, take it if:
It may be more comfortable to sit in a chair when you take the medicine. Some people help prevent symptoms by taking nitroglycerin before any activity that usually causes angina.
See your healthcare provider if the angina gets worse or happens more often.
Sometimes it's hard to tell a severe attack of angina from the beginning of a true heart attack. You need to call 911 for emergency help right away if:
If you are having these symptoms, do not drive yourself to the hospital. You could pass out if the angina is severe.