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Angina is recurring chest pain or discomfort that happens when some part of the heart does not receive enough blood and oxygen. Angina is a symptom of coronary heart disease (CHD), which occurs when arteries that carry blood to the heart become narrowed and blocked due to atherosclerosis or a blood clot.

Risk Factors for Angina

  • stress
  • high blood pressure
  • high blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels
  • obesity
  • older age
  • tobacco use
  • diabetes
  • lack of exercise
  • personal or family history of heart disease

Symptoms of Angina

The following are the most common symptoms of angina. However, each individual with angina may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms of angina may include:

  • a pressing, squeezing or crushing pain, usually in the chest under the breast bone, but may also occur in the upper back, both arms, neck or ear lobes
  • pain radiating in the arms, shoulders, jaw, neck and/or back
  • shortness of breath
  • weakness and/or fatigue

Diagnosis of Angina

In addition to a complete medical history and medical examination, a physician can often diagnose angina by noting the patient's symptoms and how/when they occur. The diagnosis of angina may also determine the severity of the coronary heart disease, and may include an electrocardiogram, stress test, CT scans or cardiac catheterization.