ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Angina Pectoris: Symptoms, Treatment, Plus 10 Preventive Health Measures

Updated on September 4, 2013

Angina pectoris is a chest pain that results from temporary difficulty in the coronary arteries. In such cases, the arteries are incapable of supplying a sufficient amount of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. People with angina pectoris often have a disorder that underlies the pain. High blood pressure, anemia, arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and diabetes are common causes.


The person suffering from angina pectoris first notices a chest pain that usually occurs behind the sternum (breastbone) in the area of the heart. The pain often travels down from the left shoulder as far as the elbow or wrist. However, the pain may be transmitted to areas away from the heart muscle. The sensation is usually one of crushing viselike pain as opposed to sharp acute pain. The condition may last for as long as 30 minutes, but in most cases its duration is only a few minutes.

Almost without exception, angina occurs after strenuous exercise, a heavy meal, or under unusual emotional stress. Under these circumstances, an increased demand comes from the heart for oxygen but is not accompanied by an increase in blood circulation from the heart muscle. Once the precipitating factor is removed -- the exercise is stopped, the food digested, or the emotional crisis is past -- the pain subsides.

When the individual is examined, actual physical evidence of the condition may not be found. There may be evidence of arteriosclerosis, some from of heart disease, or lesions of the heart muscle called myocardial infarction .

A discussion with the patient will determine if angina pectoris occurs under the conditions mentioned and that relief comes when the demands on the heart disappear. The time of the day the pain occurs is often more significant than the incidence of pain from one day to the next.

For example, if someone experiences angina pectoris after a heavy breakfast or after running to work in the morning, it indicates that stress is placed on the heart as the person goes from a restful state to a highly active one. The same person may be able to eat a comparable evening meal or hurriedly go home from work after a full day of activity and not experience any pain.

Because the medical profession is aware of all these problems, special tests have been devised for the diagnosis of angina pectoris. Patients are put through a series of carefully designed and graduated stress studies. The person may be asked to walk in a treadmill carrying increasingly heavy loads and to vary his pace. He may also be asked to pedal an exercise bicycle at different rates of speed. The physician watches the individual as he performs these tests to observe signs of stress and changes in the patient.

He also attaches monitoring devices to the patient that test his blood pressure, heart rate and pulse. Thus the doctor can ascertain how much stress the person's heart can take before angina pectoris is present and under what conditions the seizures occur.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment begins with educating the victim about the causes and condition and the ways of preventing its occurrence. He learns to restrict his activity to the amount of exertion his heart can tolerate and to gradually work up to any strenuous physical activity.

However, equally important is that the sufferer does not completely give up all physical exertion, since complete lack of exercise diminishes the heart muscle's capacity to function.

The patient must also learn to avoid situations that will cause him emotional stress. Dietary considerations are one of the most important aspects of preventive measures. Most people who suffer from angina pain are overweight and therefore must reduce. Once the excess weight is lost, the person should watch his caloric intake and especially his intake of fats. Alcoholic beverages may be taken only in moderation. Smoking should be discontinued.

If one is able to adjust his life so that he eliminates as far as possible the condition that bring about attacks , he will be able to prolong his life and probably to markedly reduce the frequency of such attacks.

When one does have an attack of angina pectoris, medication can relieve the pai. The most widely used is nitroglycerin given in tablet form. The table is inserted under the tongue; and as it dissolves, it quickly brings cessation of pain, usually in less than two minutes.

A person -- knowing he has nitroglycerin with him at all times -- will tend to have a reduced level of anxiety and therefore reduced frequency of attacks. Nitroglycerin dilates or relaxes the coronary arteries so that they widen and permit a greater flow of blood. A headache may occur as a side effect of taking nitroglycerin.

Propanolol is another drug that is used in the treatment of angina pectoris. Unlike nitroglycerin - which is used to treat an attack - propanolol is employed to prevent attack. It is taken orally every day, and acts on the sympathetic nervous system to retard the heart rate and therefore decrease the amount of work that has to be done by the heart muscle.

Isosorbide dinitrate is another drug used to prevent angina pectoris. It acts to dilate the coronary arteries, which in turn allows more oxygenated blood to reach the heart.

Both propanolol and isosorbide dinitrate have some undesirable side effects, and must be used only under the careful supervision of a doctor.

In some case, surgery is performed to remove some of the thickened wall of an artery or to implant a special artery in a specific area of the heart.

10 Preventative Health Measures for Angina

1. Do not undertake strenuous, sudden, or prolonged physical activity which may place a heavy strain on your heart.

2. Eat meals on a regular schedule, without rushing and without overeating.

3. Try to keep your weight down, especially if you are over 40. People who are overweight are much more susceptible to angina pectoris.

4. After eating a heavy meal, do not attempt physical activity for at least 30 minutes.

5. Arrange your workday so that it leaves you time for rest periods. Try to avoid situations that will cause you emotional stress.

6. Observe general health rules to protect yourself as far as possible from the risk of infection.

7. Avoid constipation.

8. Sleep in a well-ventilated room and try to get at least eight hours of sleep at night.

9. Keep fit with a regular program of moderate exercise.

10. Make certain that you see your doctor for regular medical checkups.


Submit a Comment

  • amithak50 profile image


    6 years ago from India

    Nice information ...It is very serious disease and I think we should take care of it

  • conradofontanilla profile image


    6 years ago from Philippines

    Pearl of the Orient,

    Propanolol is a beta blocker, a synthetic one invented by Sir James Black. It competes with adrenalin thus it lessens the effect of adrenalin in increasing heart rate. It has a reported side effect of bleeding in the lungs. A calcium channel blocker like diltiazem is better. Isosorbide dinitrate might dilate arteries in places that are inappropriate, according to an internist chelationist, Dr. Arturo V. Estuita, MD, a Filipino. Good tip on nitroglycerin. Heart disease is caused by free radicals so these should be addressed to prevent angina and heart attack. I have Hubs on heart disease like "What Would I Do If I Had A Heart Attack? I Would Ensure More Life Beyond."

    Myocardial infarction (MI) is the medical jargon for heart attack. It is brought on by death of heart muscles owing to lack of oxygen. MI can be detected by the MB fraction creatine kinase test and two-dimensional echocardiography within a week after attack.

  • beth811 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Seas

    surale - Thank you for your comment.

  • surale profile image


    7 years ago from pakistan

    very nice work you done i like it.

  • beth811 profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Seas

    Nice to "see" you again, Tony. Thanks for visiting.

  • tonymac04 profile image

    Tony McGregor 

    8 years ago from South Africa

    Great information and good advice - thanks. For older people like me it's always good to be reminded of these things - and for younger people to take note of!

    Love and peace



This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)