Angina FAQs

Have you ever had an overwhelming sensation of tightness or pain in the chest? Did it make you feel like you were having a heart attack? Well, this could be angina. Chest pain can sometimes be indicative of coronary artery disease, angina or angina pectoris. This is typically caused by reduced blood flow to the heart. Symptoms include tightness, squeezing and burning sensations in the chest. Read on to find answers to your questions about the disease.

What types of angina are there?

There are two types of angina: stable and unstable. If angina occurs during physical activity or emotional distress, it is termed stable angina. If it occurs during rest, it is called unstable angina.1

What are the symptoms of angina?

Symptoms include tightness or pressure in the chest with feelings of burning and squeezing in the same area. According to, it is sometimes accompanied by pain in the jaws, arms, neck, shoulder or back. Other symptoms include nausea, dizziness, sweating, fatigue and shortness of breath. Symptoms in people AFAB may be slightly different, such as abdominal pain, shortness of breath, nausea, discomfort in the jaw or neck and stabbing chest pain. 

Who is at risk for angina pectoris?

People suffering from obesity, high blood pressure and/or diabetes are at high risk. Those who have a family history of coronary artery disease will also be at risk, however lifestyle choices can override genetic predisposition. The risk group typically lies around 45 years in people assigned male at birth (AMAB) and 55 years in people assigned female at birth (AFAB). 

What are the possible complications of angina pectoris?

Living with angina can make daily activities difficult; for instance, walking will be uncomfortable. The most serious complication of angina is a heart attack, and the subsequent heart complications post-heart attack. 

What are the risk factors for angina?

Obesity, lifestyle, stress, and a family history of coronary artery disease. In addition to this, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and high triglyceride levels, and diabetes also contribute. Age is a major risk factor as people AMAB at 45 years and people AFAB at 55 years are at a higher risk than younger people. 

How is angina pectoris treated?

Angina pectoris treatment in patients involves lifestyle changes, medications, surgery (e.g. stenting), angioplasty or coronary bypass.

Can angina pectoris be prevented?

It can be prevented with lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, lowering unhealthy levels of high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It is also advised to eat healthy meals, keep fit through moderate to intense physical activity like stretching and strength training, reducing the number of alcoholic beverages, and getting a flu shot for heart complications. 

What happens to the heart during an angina event?

Chest pain may be accompanied by pain in the neck, jaw, throat, shoulder or back. There may also be shortness of breath, palpitations, skipped heartbeats, rapid heartbeat, and a “flip-flop” feeling in the patient's chest. 

How is angina pectoris diagnosed?

Angina pectoris is diagnosed through an electrocardiogram (ECG), stress test, echocardiogram, nuclear stress test, chest X-ray, blood tests, cardiac computerised tomography, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and coronary angiography. 

What are the risk factors for angina and atherosclerosis?

Normally, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, blood pressure above the usual, smoking, metabolic disorders like diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity, and minimal healthy eating habits are risk factors for the two conditions. 

What is the prognosis for a person with angina?

If the symptoms are monitored, it is possible for people with angina to live longer. It is a high-risk diagnosis; however, compared to previous reports of an "unhappy prognosis" by the Framingham investigators, it is possible to have normal outcomes.2

What does the pain or discomfort feel like?

The pain usually feels like a burning sensation and squeezing, tightness or pressure in the chest. In people AFAB, it is a little different and feels like a stabbing sensation. 

Where do you feel the pain or discomfort?

The feelings of heaviness, discomfort, squeezing, and pain are in the chest. It's reported to be like a weight on your chest and sometimes a vice squeezing your chest. 

How severe is the pain or discomfort?

Chest pain could be dull, tight, or heavy. Some people, particularly people AFAB, feel stabbing pain that spreads to different parts of the body, such as the shoulder, neck, jaw, back or arms. 

What medications are available for angina treatment?

Nitrates belong to the class of calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers and blood thinners. Statins can also be used for lowering cholesterol and dissolving plaques. 

If I have angina, can I travel by plane?

There is no contraindication on flying with heart disease (i.e. it has not been suggested that you cannot travel by plane). However, it must be certified by a doctor. Usually, there are no risks with flying to your health, but patients with heart disease, who have undergone heart surgery, and those hospitalised must exercise caution. 

Which medical specialists treat angina?

It is the cardiologists who generally take on cases related to cardiovasular medicine and surgery. General physicians also take up angina-related cases before referring them to the specialists.

What do you do if angina lasts longer than a few minutes?

Be proactive, call 999, and get emergency medical attention - it could save your life. If the situation persists, you might be moved to emergency surgery by an attending physician.

When should I call the doctor about angina?

A few minutes into having it. If a patient’s pain does not cease even after taking medication, call for emergency medical attention. It could be something serious like a heart attack


  1. 2022. 6 Facts About Chest Pain.[online] [Accessed 17 February 2022].
  2. Timmis A, Feder G, Hemingway H. Prognosis of stable angina pectoris: why we need larger population studies with higher endpoint resolution. 2022.

Aarthi Narayan

Master of Science (M.S.), Biological science, University of Illinois Chicago

Scientist with 10+ years of strong industry, academic experience in Molecular biology, Tissue culture, Protein purification techniques. Mid-level experience in Diagnostics and start-ups. Excellent at completing large scale projects and experiments with minimal supervision in a timely and efficient manner.

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