Angina is a type of chest pain that occurs when there is not enough blood flow to the heart muscle. This is often a result of the narrowing of blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle. The narrowing is usually caused by hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease.

The pain of angina pain is often described as:

  • Tightness or squeezing in the chest
  • Heaviness or weight on the chest
  • Chest pain from angina can spread (radiate)
    • Down the left arm (most common site)
    • To the left shoulder
    • To the back
    • To the neck or lower jaw
    • Down the right arm

The pain of angina occurs during activities that make the heart work harder, such as:

  • Any physical activity (climbing stairs, having sex, etc.)
  • Eating a large meal
  • Emotional stress
  • Exposure to cold

Other symptoms of angina include shortness of breath, nausea, and a cold, sweaty feeling. Angina is often relieved by rest and medication.