What is angina?

Don't Ignore Angina Angina pectoris is Latin for chest pain. It is not a heart attack, but it is a warning sign that you shouldn't ignore.

  • It is a signal that your heart isn't getting the blood and oxygen it needs.
  • It is a sign that you have coronary heart disease.
  • It is a warning that you're at increased risk for heart attack.

Learn the symptoms of angina, and seek immediate medical attention if you develop any of the symptoms.


Angina pectoris is the medical term for chest pain or pressure. This feeling is caused by a temporary decrease in the amount of blood and oxygen flowing to your heart. When your heart muscle does not get enough blood to meet its need for oxygen, it may cramp. That causes the pain.

Sometimes exercise, stress, or strong emotion can bring on angina. That's because each of these factors increases the heart's demand for oxygen. Extreme temperatures, alcohol, and cigarette smoking can also cause angina. Regardless of what brings it on, angina is a warning sign. Some part of your heart is not getting the blood and oxygen it needs.

Angina is not a heart attack, but it is a warning sign of serious heart problems. Some blood is getting through to your heart but not enough. Unlike in a heart attack, this reduced blood flow usually does not cause permanent damage to your heart muscle. It does mean you probably have CHD and that your risk for a heart attack is high.


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