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Angina is pain, pressure, or tightness that is usually felt in your chest. Pain or discomfort may be felt in your arms, jaw, neck, back, or shoulders. You may also have shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, fatigue, sweating, or dizziness. Angina is caused by decreased blood flow and oxygen to your heart. If left untreated, angina may get worse, increase your risk of a heart attack, or become life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


If you are taking nitrate medicine, you should not take certain drugs. Some drugs used to treat sexual or impotence problems may interact with nitrates. If you do not get treatment, your angina may get worse and further increase your risk of a heart attack and death.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


You may need to rest in bed until your chest pain is treated. Your healthcare provider will tell you when it is okay to get out of bed. Call a healthcare provider before you get up for the first time. If you ever feel weak or dizzy, sit or lie down right away. Then call the healthcare provider.


  • Aspirin helps to prevent blood clots by thinning your blood. If you cannot take aspirin, your healthcare provider can give you a prescription blood thinning medicine instead. Aspirin and other blood thinners may increase your risk of bleeding, including stomach bleeding.
  • Nitrates , such as nitroglycerin, open the arteries to your heart so the heart gets more oxygen.
  • Beta-blockers cause the heart to beat more slowly and decrease blood pressure. This decreases the amount of oxygen the heart needs. Beta-blockers also help open up the blood vessels in the heart.
  • Calcium channel blockers help relax the muscles in the arteries of the heart, increasing blood flow to the heart.
  • Statins are used to lower cholesterol levels. This prevents further narrowing of the blood vessels in your heart.
  • Diuretics are given to decrease edema (excess fluid) that collects in a part of your body, such as your legs. Diuretics can also remove excess fluid from around your heart or lungs and decrease your blood pressure. It is often called water pills. You may urinate more often when you take this medicine.
  • Pain medicine may be given to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.


  • Blood tests may show if there is damage to your heart. Your healthcare provider may also use blood tests to measure the amount of oxygen in your blood.
  • Telemetry is continuous monitoring of your heart rhythm. Sticky pads placed on your skin connect to an EKG machine that records your heart rhythm.
  • Pulse oximetry shows how much oxygen is in your blood.
  • Intake and output will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. Healthcare providers also may need to collect or need to know how much you are urinating.


  • An EKG records your heart rhythm and how fast your heart beats. It is also used to look for problems or damage in different areas of the heart.
  • An echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound. Sound waves are used to show the structure, movement, and blood vessels of your heart.
  • A chest x-ray may be done to see how well your lungs and heart are functioning.
  • A nuclear medicine scan uses an x-ray with a computer to take pictures of your heart. You will be given a safe amount of radioactive dye through an IV in your vein. The dye helps your heart show up better in the pictures.
  • A stress test helps healthcare providers see the changes that take place in your heart while it is under stress. Healthcare providers may place stress on your heart with exercise or medicine. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about this test.
  • Cardiac catheterization is a procedure that uses dye and an x-ray to check the blood flow in your coronary arteries. This can help your healthcare provider decide how to treat your angina. Sometimes blockages can be treated during a cardiac catheterization.


  • Oxygen may be needed if the level of oxygen in your blood is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils.
  • You may need to wear pressure stockings or inflatable boots. The stockings are tight and put pressure on your legs. The boots have an air pump that tightens and loosens different areas of the boots. Both of these improve blood flow and help prevent blood clots.
  • Angioplasty and stenting help open the coronary arteries and allows blood to flow to the heart. Your healthcare provider makes a small puncture into an artery, usually in the groin. A small wire with a balloon on the end is sent up into a coronary artery. The healthcare provider inflates the balloon to push the plaque (fatty deposits) against the artery wall. Sometimes a stent is placed during an angioplasty procedure. A stent is a metal mesh tube that is placed in the artery to keep it open.
  • Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) , or open heart surgery, can improve blood flow to the heart. This will help your chest pain and prevent a heart attack.

Learn more about Angina (Inpatient Care)

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Symptoms and treatments

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.