Common Symptoms of Angina
Angina (chest pain) is one of the most common symptoms of heart disease. People with atherosclerosis, coronary microvascular disease, coronary heart disease, and other related conditions often experience intermittent chest pain as a result of reduced blood flow to the heart.
Angina can also be accompanied by one or more other symptoms, such as:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
Sometimes, it can be difficult for patients to determine whether these symptoms are indicative of angina or another condition, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease. That’s partially because the symptoms are often vague, and partially because it can be difficult to pinpoint where exactly the pain is coming from. With angina, pain isn’t always limited to the chest; it can also be felt in the neck, jaw, shoulders, arms, or back.
One rule of thumb to differentiate angina symptoms from symptoms of other conditions is to look for a pattern of what makes them develop and what makes them stop. For many individuals, angina is brought on by specific, predictable triggers such as exercise or stress; this is referred to as stable angina. When the trigger is addressed (for instance, the person stops exercising and allows their heart rate to return to normal), the symptoms typically stop. However, angina can also be unstable (not caused by a specific activity), and the pain can occur when the individual is sitting, sleeping, or not otherwise expecting symptoms to occur. This is considered a medical emergency, as it could potentially be a symptom of a more serious issue such as a heart attack or stroke.
At Tampa General Hospital, our heart and vascular team is available 24/7 to assess patients who are exhibiting unstable angina or other symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. If you are experiencing sudden chest pain that is not the result of exercise, stress, or another known trigger, call 9-1-1 immediately. TGH can also provide long-term monitoring and treatment for patients with stable angina. For a referral to a cardiologist, use our PhysicianFinder.