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. Rather, it's a symptom of an underlying heart problem, most often coronary artery disease or coronary microvascular disease.
Coronary artery disease 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 United States may have angina. It affects men and women equally.
There are four main types of angina:
U.S. News & World Report ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of America's best hospitals for heart care and heart surgery.
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.
To make an appointment, call 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484) or make an appointment online.
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.
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 medications may or may not ease symptoms.
First, your doctor will do 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, he or she will look for signs of heart damage.
Your doctor will also diagnose what type of angina — either stable or unstable — you have.
He or she may do certain tests or order imaging scans such as:
To make an appointment at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute, call 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484) or make an appointment online.
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 angina, like:
Medications are 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 cardiac 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.
To learn more about angina treatments at the Heart and Vascular Institute, call 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484) or make an appointment online.