How do I know if my pain is angina?
Angina can bother you when you are doing activities like walking, climbing stairs, exercising or cleaning. The pain of angina may make you sweat or make it hard to catch your breath. You may feel pain in your arm, neck, jaw or shoulder as well as in your chest. If the pain is mild, it may go away after a minute or so of rest. If the pain is more severe, medicine may be needed. Often, a medicine called nitroglycerin is used to treat severe angina.
Some people have angina that comes on with a certain level of activity and goes away easily. They may have this kind of angina for a long time. This is called stable angina.
When the pattern of angina changes a lot, it's called unstable angina. This is a sign of danger. More episodes of angina with less exertion, angina that comes on while you're resting, or angina in someone who hasn't had it before are also danger signs.
Unstable angina may be the first sign of a heart attack. If you get angina, you should call your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room right away. Another sign of danger is chest pain that doesn't go away with rest or after taking medicine. If you have chest pain that doesn't go away, go to the emergency room right away.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff