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What Are Angina Symptoms?

Doctors may order an x-ray to diagnose angina.
An inadequate supply of oxygenated blood to the heart muscle may cause angina.
Angina symptoms include tightness in the chest.
Article Details
  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 11 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Angina symptoms can vary among patients, but nearly all suffer from pain and tightness in the chest. In some cases, this pain spreads to the back, left arm, and neck. An angina attack, as it is sometimes known, is usually brought on by exercise or exertion. Other angina symptoms include dizziness and nausea. If a patient is suffering from stable angina, the symptoms usually disappear within several minutes, while unstable angina symptoms persist for longer.

There are two types of angina: stable and unstable. Angina symptoms for both are similar, but do not follow the same pattern. Stable angina usually develops over a longer period, and symptoms typically last for a shorter time. Unstable angina can develop independently or after a period of stable angina, and is considered a medical emergency.

Pain in the chest is the most common symptom of angina. The pain may affect other areas of the body such as the neck, back, and sometimes the left arm. Stable angina usually results in pain after exertion or exercise, while unstable angina can cause pain without any trigger. Angina pain is often described as a feeling of tightness or heaviness. Most people find that the pain disappears after several minutes.

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There are a number of other angina symptoms, although not all people with the condition will experience them. A feeling of dizziness, along with nausea, may accompany an angina attack. Some people feel out of breath or very tired. The length of a stable angina attack varies, but the symptoms should start to fade when the person rests.

Unstable angina is a serious condition that usually requires immediate treatment. It can be hard to differentiate from stable angina because the symptoms are very similar. The difference is that the symptoms can occur even while the person is resting and will last longer than those associated with stable angina. In some cases, an unstable angina attack can last for over five minutes. If someone thinks that he or she is suffering from unstable angina, an ambulance should be called immediately.

If a doctor suspects that a patient is showing angina symptoms, there are a number of tests that can confirm this diagnosis. A blood test, for example, can assess the level of cholesterol in the blood. Other tests include an ECG and an angiogram, which involves an injection of a fluid that is visible to X-rays. This allows the doctor to check for narrowed arteries.

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