WHAT IS ANGINA?
Angina is the the pain you feel when your heart does not get enough oxygen. Your heart may not be getting enough oxygen because the arteries that take blood and oxygen to your heart may have become smaller because of a build-up of fatty deposits (called plaque or atherosclerosis).
WHAT DOES ANGINA FEEL LIKE?
Angina may not feel the same to all people. It can feel like:
- A crushing or squeezing discomfort in the center of your chest
- Chest pressure or pain
- Discomfort or pain in your jaw, teeth, shoulder, upper back, or down your arm (arm may feel numb)
- Unusual shortness of breath
- A burning feeling under your breastbone (can feel like heart burn)
WHO GETS ANGINA?
Nearly 10 million people in America have angina, and an estimated 500,000 will develop angina every year. Reducing the following risk factors may help control your angina and prevent a heart attack:
You may also feel angina under certain conditions, called the 4 Es, or "triggers."
The 4 Es include:
- Eating a large meal
- Exercise and other physical activity
- Extremely cold weather
If you experience angina with any one of these triggers, be aware that having two triggers at once (such as exercising in extremely cold weather) may cause you to have angina more easily.
TESTS FOR ANGINA
There are a number of tests available to help learn more about your angina. These tests will help your doctor or nurse determine the best treatment for you.
- Resting electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
- Exercise test (stress test)
- Echocardiogram (ECHO)
- Cardiac cath (coronary angiogram)
- Thallium test
TREATMENTS FOR ANGINA
There are two types of treatment for angina- controlling your risk factors and medicines and procedures to prevent or relieve your angina.
Medicines available include:
TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR ANGINA
You can take control of your angina in a number of ways. Follow these tips to stay as healthy and active as possible:
Use a Daily Record for Angina- this includes writing down the date/time, trigger, grade, how long your angina lasted, and the action you took to relieve angina symptoms. Download and print the Daily Record for Angina.
- Ask your doctor or nurse to help you develop an exercise plan.
- Consider asking for a referral to a cardiac rehabilitation program.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Warm up and cool down for best results. Remember to consider the weather and how certain conditions may trigger your angina.
- As your doctor or nurse if you should add strength training to your exercise plan.
Performing Daily Activities
- Daily activities such as housework or shopping can cause angina. Ask your doctor or nurse to help you develop a daily activity plan.
- Many people get angina during sex. Ask your doctor or nurse for suggestions on how to avoid angina during this time.
- Angina doesn't stop while you're traveling. Follow the tips listed at the right to travel safely.
Put Yourself, Your Family, and Your Friends at Ease
- Talk to your family and friends about your angina.
- Have a plan for getting medical help if necessary.
- Lower your stress- use these Life Skills to help during times of stress.
- Live a healthy life by getting enough sleep, exercising, eating right, taking your medicines as prescribed, and controlling your risk factors.
download & print information about Angina
This comprehensive booklet will help you understand and take control of your angina.
This brochure provides quick information about angina, including how to reduce attacks and how to cope with symptoms.
The fifth edition of this booklet and brochure is part of "Get Tough on Angina," a program of education and information for patients with angina and their families, funded through an educational grant from Gilead Sciences, Inc.
Disclaimer: This and other PCNA educational materials are for information purposes only and are not intended to replace medical advice or diagnose or treat health problems. Health-related decisions should be made in partnership with a healthcare provider. It is the reader's responsibility to seek out the most current, accurate information.