A feeling of tightness or pressure in the mid-chest, which may radiate to one or both shoulders, arms, or hands, or to the jaw or more rarely the back or abdomen, is the typical symptom of angina Figure 02. Stable angina typically occurs with activity or stress, lasts one to five minutes, and then eases with rest. The sensation may occur suddenly and then gradually ease. People often do not experience angina as pain, but rather a sensation of tightness, heaviness, or pressure in the chest. Nausea, shortness of breath, sweats, and sense of anxiety and fear may also accompany an angina attack.
Women and persons with diabetes may have unusual or atypical angina symptoms, such as shortness of breath or nausea without chest pain.
Figure 02. Common areas of pain caused by angina
The risk factors for angina are the same as those for coronary artery disease: cigarette smoking, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, male gender, older age, and a family history of premature heart disease. A family history of premature heart disease may be defined as having a close relative (such as a parent, brother or sister, uncle or aunt, or grandparent) who has been diagnosed with coronary heart disease before the age of 55.
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