Angina, also known as ischemic chest pain, is caused by too little blood flow to the heart. It can feel like pressure, burning, or squeezing in the chest. Angina can be a sign of heart disease or you’re at risk for a heart attack.
Dignity Health’s cardiologists are committed to keeping your heart beating strong. Our Bay Area cardiac care facilities feature the latest technologies and tools — all to make sure we provide the best care possible. If you are concerned about the possibility of angina in the Bay Area, Find a Doctor at Dignity Health.
If you have angina, you may experience feelings of squeezing, fullness, or pressure in your chest. These sensations may also spread to your shoulders, neck, and jaw. It can also feel like heartburn. Stable angina occurs during or after periods of physical activity or other stress on the body. It usually goes away when you rest. Unexpected chest pain while you are at rest is called unstable angina.
When to Seek Emergency Care for Angina
Unstable angina is a medical emergency. If you are having the following symptoms along with chest pain, go to the hospital or call 9-1-1 immediately:
- Cold sweats
- Shortness of breath or any trouble breathing
- Severe or sudden fatigue
These symptoms may warn of a heart attack. Dignity Health emergency medical services are available around-the-clock to provide life-saving medical attention that may prevent or reduce long-term (chronic) heart problems.
Causes of Angina
The most common cause of angina is coronary artery disease, which is the result of fatty buildup within the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries and makes it harder for fresh, oxygen-rich blood to flow easily to the heart. Reduced blood flow to the heart increases your risk of complications due to the strain it puts on the heart muscle.
Your doctor at Dignity Health will discuss the location and timing of your chest pain with you to distinguish stable from unstable angina. One or more of the following tests may be used to confirm the diagnosis and to identify the underlying cause:
- EKG (electrocardiogram) shows your heart’s electrical activity, along with heart rate and rhythm.
- Stress test monitors your heart while you walk or run on a treadmill.
- Blood tests show substances in the blood that can be a sign of heart disease or damage.
- Coronary angiography can find artery blockages using dye injections and X-rays.
- Heart imaging through a chest X-ray or CT scan.
Treating Angina in the Bay Area
Dignity Health's expert cardiac care team focuses on relieving the pain of angina by treating its cause — usually heart disease. Heart disease treatments include:
- Lifestyle changes
- Coronary angioplasty
- Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG)
If you are interested in cardiac care that’s focused on humankindness, see a doctor at Dignity Health. To learn more, you can also take our online heart risk assessment.
Dignity Health offers complete care for heart conditions, including angina, in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.