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Diseases » Angina » Introduction


Angina: Introduction

Angina is a common type of chest pain that can occur when the heart muscle is not receiving sufficient blood flow and oxygen. Angina is a symptom of some heart diseases, especially atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is the build-up of plaque and inflammation in the arteries of the body, including the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle (coronary arteries). Atherosclerosis narrows the coronary arteries and lowers the amount of oxygen-rich blood that reaches the heart muscle. Arteries narrowed by atherosclerosis are more likely to develop a blood clot that completely blocks blood flow, resulting in a heart attack.

The chest pain of angina can be mild to severe. The chest pain of angina is different from the chest pain of a heart attack in that angina generally occurs with activity or exertion and goes away with rest and/or medication, such as nitroglycerin. In contrast, the chest pain of a heart attack does not go away with rest or after taking nitroglycerin. To learn more about other important symptoms and complications of angina, refer to symptoms of angina.

Angina can also be a symptom of other types of heart disease, such as aortic valve disease, coronary artery spasm and cardiac arrhythmias, which can all reduce the amount of blood and oxygen that reaches the heart muscle.

Angina can also be a symptom of anemia, in which a low number of red blood cells in the blood reduces the amount of oxygen supplied to the heart muscle.

Risk factors for developing angina are the same risk factors for developing heart disease. These include having high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia, hyperlipidemia), obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle. Other risk factors include being of African-American ancestry, male, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, having a lot of long-term stress, smoking, and having a family history of heart disease.

People who have high C-protein levels, which increases atherosclerosis, are also at a higher risk for heart disease and angina.

Making a diagnosis of heart disease includes completing a complete medical evaluation and history and physical examination. Tests that may be used to diagnose angina include blood tests, exercise stress testing, EKG, X-Ray, and imaging tests, such as heart scan, ultrasound and echocardiogram. A coronary angiogram may also be performed. A coronary angiogram is an invasive procedure that reveals which coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked.

It is possible that a diagnosis of angina can be missed or delayed because the symptoms can be similar to symptoms of some other diseases and conditions. To learn more about diseases and conditions that can mimic angina, refer to misdiagnosis of angina.

Angina is treated with an individualized treatment plan that best fits the individual case of angina, age, a person's life style and other factors. Treatment involves regular medical monitoring and testing, lifestyle and dietary changes, and may include medications and surgery. For more details about treatment plans, refer to treatment of angina. ...more »

Angina: Angina pectoris ("angina") is a description of a particular type of chest pain related to the heart. The foremost concern is to ensure that the condition is not actually a heart attack. Other possible causes of chest pain, and there are numerous, can range from less life-threatening (e.g. reflux, heartburn, indigestion, GERD, etc.) to the extremely dangerous (e.g. heart attack, heart disorders, lung disorders and many other causes of chest pain). Always seek emergency medical attention for chest pain or other medical conditions similar to chest pain or angina. ...more »

Angina: Symptoms

Chest pain is a hallmark symptom of angina. The chest pain of angina can vary in intensity from mild to severe and can be similar in to the chest pain of a heart attack. However, there generally is a key difference. The chest pain of angina is often different from the chest pain of a heart attack in that angina generally occurs with activity or exertion and goes away ...more symptoms »

Angina: Treatments

Treatment of angina begins with prevention. The damage done to the blood vessel of the body that lead to angina can often be prevented or controlled with prevention measures. They include regular exercise, not smoking, not drinking excessively, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a heart-healthy well-balanced diet. Other risk ...more treatments »

Angina: Misdiagnosis

Regular medical care is the best way to detect angina and heart disease in its earliest stage before they lead to advanced heart disease and critical complications, such as heart attack and heart failure.

It can be difficult to distinguish between the symptoms of angina and the symptoms of a heart attack and other conditions. The only way to determine what is causing ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Angina

Treatments for Angina

Home Diagnostic Testing

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Wrongly Diagnosed with Angina?

Angina: Related Patient Stories

Angina: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Angina.

Alternative Treatments for Angina

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Angina may include:

Types of Angina

  • Stable angina - a regular pattern of angina; the most common type.
  • Unstable angina - a new, irregular or changed pattern of angina. Needs urgent medical attention for possible heart attack or heart disease.
  • Prinzmetal's angina (variant angina) - caused by vasospasm.
  • Microvascular angina - caused by small blood vessels rather than artery damage.
  • more types...»

Diagnostic Tests for Angina

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Angina: Complications

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Causes of Angina

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Disease Topics Related To Angina

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Angina: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Angina

Heart attacks can be undiagnosed: Although the most severe symptoms of heart attack are hard to miss, there are varying degrees of severity. It is altogether too common for people to die from undiagnosed heart attack, or more »

Heart attacks can be overdiagnosed: Although many people die from heart attacks, there are also many cases where people fear that they have a heart attack, but more »

Rare heart condition often undiagnosed: The rare heart condition called long QT syndrome can lead to episodes of palpitations and rapid heartbeat. In rare cases, more »

Heart attack can be over-diagnosed: Although heart attack is often undiagnosed, leading to fatality, it can also be over-diagnosed. People become more »

Alzheimer's disease over-diagnosed: The well-known disease of Alzheimer's disease is often over-diagnosed. Patients tend to assume that any memory loss more »

Dementia may be a drug interaction: A common scenario in aged care is for a patient to show mental decline to dementia. Whereas this can, of course, occur due to various medical conditions, such as a stroke or Alzheimer's disease, more »

Tremor need not be Parkinson's disease: There is the tendency to believe that any tremor symptom, or shakiness, means Parkinson's disease. The reality more »

Leg cramps at night a classic sign: The symptom of having leg muscle cramps, particularly at night, is a classic sign of undiagnosed diabetes. However, there are more »

Blood pressure cuffs misdiagnose hypertension in children: One known misdiagnosis issue with hyperension, arises in relation to the simple equipment more »

Rare diseases misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease: A rare genetic disorder is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease for men in their 50's. The disease more »

Hypertension misdiagnosis common in children: Hypertension is often misdiagnosed in adults (see misdiagnosis of hypertension), but its misdiagnosis is even more likely in children. Some of the symptoms of hypertension that more »

Vitamin B12 deficiency under-diagnosed: The condition of Vitamin B12 deficiency is a possible misdiagnosis of various conditions, such as multiple sclerosis more »

Angina: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Hospitals & Clinics: Angina

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Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Angina, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Angina: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Latest Treatments for Angina

Angina: Animations

Prognosis for Angina

Research about Angina

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Statistics for Angina

Angina: Broader Related Topics

Angina Message Boards

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User Interactive Forums

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Article Excerpts about Angina

Keep your heart and blood vessels healthy: NIDDK (Excerpt)

Chest pain, also called angina (an-JY-nuh). When you have angina, you feel pain in your chest, arms, shoulders, or back. You may feel the pain more when your heart works faster, such as when you exercise. The pain may go away when you rest. You also may feel very weak and sweaty. If you do not get it treated, chest pain may happen more often. If diabetes has damaged the heart nerves, you may not feel the chest pain. (Source: excerpt from Keep your heart and blood vessels healthy: NIDDK)


A recurring pain or discomfort in the chest that happens when some part of the heart does not receive enough blood. It is a common symptom of coronary heart disease (CHD), which occurs when vessels that carry blood to the heart become narrowed and blocked due to atherosclerosis (Source: excerpt from NHLBI, ANGINA: NHLBI)

Angina: NWHIC (Excerpt)

Angina, or angina pectoris, refers to symptoms such as chest pain or discomfort caused by reduced blood flow to the heart. Angina is often the first sign of heart disease. (Source: excerpt from Angina: NWHIC)

Definitions of Angina:

Any disease of the throat or fauces marked by spasmodic attacks of intense suffocative pain - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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