What is Angina?

Here's how to tell if your chest pain is angina.


Angina may not be a word many people know, but it’s unfortunately a very common health condition. Most of us just call it chest pain.

Angina (pronounced either “an-JIY-nah” or “AN-jin-ah”) is the medical term used for intense chest pain caused by the heart. In fact, angina is actually a symptom for other conditions, such as heart disease.  It can often feel like a squeezing, burning, or tightness in the chest.

Angina occurs when the heart's oxygen demand is greater than the heart's oxygen supply. It occurs due to the narrowing, hardening, or blocking of the arteries caused by plaque buildup.

This damage to the arteries is often lifestyle-related. The plaque buildup that can cause angina commonly affects smokers or those with hypertension, high cholesterol, or diabetes. That’s because cigarettes and certain foods can lead to plaque buildup overtime, resulting in chest pain. Check out these videos for tips to quit smoking or how to eat a heart-healthy diet.

And here is more information on angina risk factors.

There are four major types of angina: stable, unstable, variant, and microvascular. Understanding each type of angina is crucial because they have different symptoms, and each type of angina responds differently to treatments for angina. Yet, it's also important to know that not all chest pain is angina. Other conditions can cause chest pain along with serious complications.

If you are experiencing angina that is not going away, call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately.


Holly Atkinson, MD

This video features Holly Atkinson, MD. Dr. Atkinson specializes in internal medicine and is an award-winning medical journalist.

Duration: 3:59. Last Updated On: Nov. 8, 2017, 6:14 p.m.
Reviewed by: Holly Atkinson, MD, Preeti Parikh, MD . Review date: March 10, 2012
being a healthier you.
Thanks for signing up!