Early Symptoms of Angina

anginaThe early symptoms of angina are pain and discomfort that usually begin behind the breastbone. This pain and discomfort – frequently described as pressure, squeezing, fullness, burning, or tightness in the centre of the chest – can also radiate to the arms, shoulders, neck, jaw, throat, or back. The intensity and length of the symptoms vary from person to person. For some it may not feel worse than a common indigestion; for others, it feels like they’re being subjected to peine forte et dure. As a matter fact, there are four different types of angina, each with its particular traits.

Common symptoms of angina:

  • Pain or discomfort in the chest.
  • Pain in the arms, neck, jaw, shoulder, or back.
  • Nausea.
  • Fatigue.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Sweating.
  • Dizziness.

Types of angina





  • The most common form.
  • Starts when the hearts works harder (during exercise, climbing stairs, etc.).
  • It is usually predictable.
  • Pain episodes are similar.
  • Short-lasting (5 minutes or less).
  • Rest or medication soon keep it under control.




  • Can occur even during rest or while sleeping.
  • Unexpected.
  • Changes the usual pattern of angina.
  • Can last as long as 30 minutes.
  • May not go away with rest or medication.
  • Might announce a heart attack.



  • Tends to start during rest.
  • Usually occurs at night or during the early morning hours.
  • It is often severe.
  • Medication relieves it.




  • May be more intense and longer-lasting.
  • May be accompanied by shortness of breath, sleep problems, fatigue, and lack of energy.
  • Usually first observed during routine everyday activities and periods of mental stress.


Angina is itself a symptom of coronary heart disease (CHD), in which the heart arteries can narrow due to a build-up of plaque (atherosclerosis), reducing the supply of blood to the heart muscle. Less blood means less oxygen – an element that the heart sorely needs during physical exertion. This is the reason that chest pain becomes evident during exercise and be absent during a less demanding activity such as sitting down. However, if the early symptoms of angina are ignored, the condition can worsen to the point that pain is felt even at rest. Make no mistake; angina is serious as a heart attack. Literally. If angina is the Silver Surfer, the heart attack is Galactus.

As may be surmised, the risk factors for angina as the same as those for CHD, and they include:

  • Smoking.
  • Diabetes.
  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol.
  • A personal or family history of heart disease.
  • Age
  • Men older then 45
  • Women older than 55
  • A sedentary lifestyle.
  • Obesity.
  • Stress.
  • Poor diet.
  • A metabolic syndrome.

Age and history aside, the remaining risk factors can be offset with a few lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, keeping a healthy weight, exercising, decreasing stress, and monitoring blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. It’s never too late – even if it is. Chest pain may or may not be angina, so it is better to be safe than sorry and see a doctor if you experience the aforementioned symptoms.

A doctor can resort to a variety of tests to produce a diagnosis, for instance:

  • Electrocardiogram.
  • Stress test.
  • Echocardiogram.
  • Nuclear stress test.
  • Chest x-ray.
  • Blood tests.
  • Coronary angiography.
  • Cardiac catheterization.
  • Cardiac CT scan.
  • Computed Tomography Angiography.

 In addition to lifestyle changes, your doctor may prescribe medications or slate you for a surgical procedure.

Angina treatment options


  • Nitrates.
  • Aspirin.
  • Clot-preventing drugs.
  • Beta blockers.
  • Statins.
  • Calcium channel blockers.
  • Ranolazine.


  • Angioplasty and stenting.
  • Coronary artery bypass surgery.


Related Read:

- Preventing heart disease: nutrition at home and out