Symptoms of angina include:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Pain in your arms, neck, jaw, shoulder or back accompanying chest pain
- Shortness of breath
The typical features of chest pain and discomfort common with angina are a feeling of pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. The feeling experienced by some people is off as if someone is squeezing their chest, or feeling like a heavy weight has been placed on their chest.
There are variations in the severity, duration, and type of angina. In case somebody has a new or changing chest pain, immediate medical attention should be sought. New or different symptoms may signal a more dangerous form of angina (unstable angina) or a heart attack.
A most common form of angina is stable angina. It typically occurs with exertion and goes away with rest. When somebody previously healthy experiences a new onset chest pain, it’s important to see the doctor to find out what’s causing the chest pain and to get proper treatment. If your stable angina gets worse or changes, seek medical attention immediately.
Characteristics of stable angina
- Pain appears when your heart works harder, such as when you exercise or climb stairs
- Predictable angina and the pain is usually similar to previous types of chest pain you’ve had
- Duration is short, perhaps five minutes or less
- Disappears sooner if you rest or use your angina medication
- Could feel like indigestion
- Might spread to your arms, back or other areas
- Can be triggered by mental or emotional stress
Characteristics of unstable angina (a medical emergency)
- May occurs even at rest
- Is a deviation from the usual pattern of angina
- Comes unexpectedly
- Severity is high and lasts longer than stable angina, maybe as long as 30 minutes
- May not disappear with rest or use of angina medication
- Might signal a heart attack
Characteristics of variant angina (Prinzmetal’s angina)
- Occurs during rest
- Is often severe
- Relieved by angina medication
- It is rare — only about 2 percent of angina cases is Prinzmetal’s angina. This type of angina is caused by a spasm in your heart’s arteries that temporarily reduces blood flow.
Angina in women
Symptoms of angina in women can be different from the classic angina symptoms. For example, a woman may have chest pain that feels like a stabbing, pulsating or sharp form of chest pain rather than the more typical vise-like pressure. Associated symptoms like nausea, shortness of breath or abdominal pain are more common in women. These differences may lead to delays in seeking treatment.