Angina is chest pain caused by an area of your heart not getting enough blood flow. It isn't a disease but a symptom of an underlying heart problem.
People with chest pain can get complete care at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute. Our doctors are experts in finding and treating underlying heart conditions that cause angina.
To request an appointment, contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute:
Angina is chest pain that happens when an area of your heart doesn't get enough blood flow.
It feels like a squeezing in your chest. It can also cause pain in your shoulders, neck, back, arms, or jaw.
Angina isn't a disease. Instead, it's a symptom of an underlying heart problem, most often coronary artery disease (CAD) or coronary microvascular disease.
CAD happens when plaque builds up in your arteries, reducing blood flow to your heart. That lack of blood flow causes angina.
As many as 7 million people in the U.S. may have angina. It affects men and women equally.
The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute provides complete angina care — from screening to diagnosis to treatment and recovery. Our experts work as a team to care for you and empower you to live a heart-healthy life.
There are four main types of angina:
Angina occurs when the heart doesn't receive enough blood flow. This often happens because of CAD. When arteries narrow from plaque buildup, blood can't flow through them as easily.
Certain factors can damage the arteries, causing plaque to build up. This means less blood can flow to the heart.
Certain factors can put you at a higher risk of angina, such as:
Angina often feels like a squeezing, tightening, or burning in the chest behind the breastbone.
You may also have pain in the:
The pain may feel like indigestion.
Other symptoms of angina include:
Symptoms may happen during physical exertion or at rest.
Women's angina symptoms may differ from those of men.
Although women have chest pain with angina, they're more likely to have other symptoms such as:
With stable angina, symptoms occur in a predictable pattern — mostly during exertion. Rest and medicine can relieve stable angina symptoms.
Other types of angina may cause symptoms even at rest, and medicine may or may not ease symptoms.
You should make an appointment with a doctor if you have:
See a doctor if your wearable (an Apple Watch, for example) shows signs of heart rhythm changes.
Find a doctor at UPMC.
First, your doctor will give you a physical exam and ask about your symptoms and health history.
Before confirming an angina diagnosis, your doctor will decide the cause of your chest pain and rule out a heart attack. Because angina is a symptom of heart disease, your doctor will look for signs of heart damage.
Your doctor will also diagnose what type of angina you have, either stable or unstable.
They may give you certain tests or order imaging scans such as:
Your doctor will base your treatment on what type of angina you have.
The main goals of treatment for all types of angina are to lessen your chest pain and prevent a heart attack.
Adjust your lifestyle to avoid triggers, such as:
Making heart-healthy changes to prevent heart disease can also help you deal with chest pain, like:
Medicine is a mainstay for stable and unstable types of angina.
Nitrates are the most common. Nitrates relax and widen your blood vessels to get more blood flow to your heart.
Your doctor may prescribe other drugs to:
These drugs include:
If medicine and lifestyle changes aren't enough, you may need other treatment methods for your heart disease.
A rehab program helps you make the lifestyle changes you need to protect your heart.
You'll learn exercises to increase strength, endurance, and energy and get advice and support for diet changes.