People describe angina symptoms differently. Many say it feels like a heavy pressure or squeezing pain in the chest. Others feel pain or tightness in the arms, shoulders, back, neck, or jaw. Some call it a vague discomfort or liken it to indigestion. Symptoms may also include anxiety, sweating, nausea or weakness. There are two main patterns of angina:
- Stable angina is rather predictable, often coming on with physical activity (eg, climbing stairs, exercise in cold weather) or stress (eg, fear, anger, anxiety), and then going away with rest or medication.
- Unstable angina is less predictable and more dangerous. It tends to occur at rest or unexpectedly and often lasts longer. The cause of chest pain can be hard to pinpoint.
In both cases, it is best to see a doctor to make sure that you are experiencing angina and not some other problem with similar symptoms such as: heart attack, indigestion, lung infection, blood clots in the arteries in the lung, aortic problems or inflammation of the heart lining.
IMPORTANT: Chest pain or discomfort not relieved by rest or medications and lasting longer than 5 minutes may be a heart attack or unstable angina: call 911 to get emergency medical treatment.