Angina is pain or discomfort in the chest. It often has a squeezing or pressure-like feel. This can also be felt in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaws, or back. Anginal pain usually lasts for no more than 10 minutes. It's relieved by rest or nitroglycerin.
Angina is treated with lifestyle changes and medicines. This helps to lower stress on the heart. If needed, blood flow to the heart can be helped with surgery.
Stable angina is predictable. Your doctor may ask you to track your symptoms and what makes them go away. This will help you find what triggers your angina.
Eat a well-balanced, heart healthy diet. This will help your heart and blood vessel health. Try to eat more fruits and vegetables. Lower the amount of saturated fat and sugar you eat.
Taking in more vitamin C and folic acid may help boost how your medicines work. L-carnitine and magnesium may help lessen angina. Don't take any of these until you talk to your doctor.
Exercise will help lower the chances of heart-related events. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity on most days of the week. This can be as easy as a brisk walk. Don't start anything without talking to your doctor first. You will both come up with a plan that works best for you.
Nitroglycerin quickly opens your blood vessels. This helps blood get to your heart. Your doctor may give it to you to use during an angina attack. If you have it:
You will need a second dose if you're not better within 5 minutes, then a third after another 5 minutes. If you still have problems, call for emergency medical services.
If you have any questions on how to use this medicine, talk to your doctor.
You may also need medicines to:
If you are taking medicines:
You and your doctor will work together to help you get better. These will help lower the chances of angina attacks or other heart problems:
Angina needs to be watched. Depending on the course of your angina, how it's treated may be changed. Go to any scheduled appointments.
Call your doctor if for any changes in how your angina feels.
Call for emergency medical services right away if you are having signs of a heart attack such as:
Unusual symptoms of heart attack (women more likely to have unusual problems):
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Angina (chest pain). American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/angina-chest-pain. Accessed September 24, 2018.
Management of angina. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114265/Management-of-angina. Updated May 25, 2018. Accessed September 24, 2018.
Angina. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/angina. Accessed September 24, 2018.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC Last Updated: 9/24/2018