Angina is a relatively common condition that is defined by pain or tightness in the chest. Some people can develop angina and live perfectly normal lives. Other individuals can develop angina because of gradually worsening heart disease. Although angina might not be life-threatening in all cases, it is important to see a doctor if the chest pains occur suddenly or for no apparent reason. It can be difficult to know when pains in the chest are angina because the symptoms are similar to several other conditions.

The primary symptom of angina is pain in the chest. Some people describe the sensation as pressure or tightness. The feeling has also been reported as similar to someone standing on the chest. The pain could remain in the chest area or it could expand to include the shoulders, back, and neck. The sensation has been compared to indigestion. Other symptoms that might accompany chest pains include sweating, nausea, difficulty breathing, and dizziness. The symptoms could last for one minute or for up to 20 minutes. Individuals who experience pain consistently for more than 20 minutes should seek medical attention immediately.

The main cause of all forms of angina is restricted blood flow to the heart. The muscles that make up the heart require a constant supply of oxygen to function properly. Blood carries this oxygen to the organ. Narrowing veins or obstructions could reduce the amount of oxygen reaching the heart. This causes pain or tightness in the chest. Another possible cause of oxygen deprivation is overexertion. Intense exercise or physical labor forces the heart to work harder. The heart requires more oxygen in order to keep up with the demands of the body. Angina that occurs after strenuous activities is likely the result of overexertion. There is still a chance that it indicates narrow or blocked arteries. Pain that occurs consistently after activity is known as stable angina. Pain that occurs suddenly for no reason is called unstable angina and could be very dangerous.

One of the main treatments for stable angina is to change lifestyle habits. Stopping bad habits like smoking or excessive drinking, eating a healthy diet, and performing regular exercise will reduce the occurrence of angina. Taking the time to relieve stress and relax helps as well. Several medications are used as an angina treatment. The medications currently available perform a variety of functions from reducing clotting and widening blood vessel to lowering cholesterol and adrenaline. Individuals who have unstable angina or who have other complicating factors could undergo surgeries like angioplasty or a coronary bypass to relieve the condition.