Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center

(801) 507-4701Map5121 S. Cottonwood StreetMurray, UT 84107

Overview of Angina

Angina, or angina pectoris, is the discomfort or pain that occurs when a narrowed coronary artery decreases the blood supply to your heart muscle. People describe angina as discomfort, tightness, pressure, or pain in the chest, back, neck, shoulders, arms (especially the left arm), or jaw. These symptoms most often happen with increased activity or emotional stress.

Angina is a sign that your heart muscle isn't getting the oxygen it needs. It doesn't cause permanent damage to your heart — but it can be a warning of a heart attack. So even though some people experience angina for many years without ever having a heart attack, you should still take angina pain seriously.

Where angina pain is often felt.Angina pain is often felt in the areas shown in red.

Angina in Depth

Learn more about angina from Intermountain's Patient Education Library:

Diagnostic Tests for Angina

  • 3D Echo

    A 3-D echo is an echocardiogram that is enhanced with 3D technology so that the doctor can see the heart from multiple angles.

  • Cardiac Catheterization

    Cardiac catheterization is a procedure in which a catheter is inserted through a blood vessel into the arteries and chambers of the heart.

  • Echocardiography

    Echocardiography is a procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to create a visual image (echocardiogram) of heart structures.

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)

    An EKG is a visual record of the spread of electrical impulses through the heart. These electrical impulses initiate the heartbeat.

  • Nuclear Cardiac and Heart Perfusion Imaging

    Imaging tests that use special cameras to visualize radionuclides in the heart. (Small amounts of radioactive materials — in the form of radionuclides — are injected into the body before the test.)

  • Stress Testing

    Stress testing is a technique that involves stressing the heart and monitoring the heart's reaction. A stress test helps evaluate the heart's capacity for work.

Treatments for Angina

Your doctor will discuss your treatment options with you. Possible treatments include:

  • Angioplasty

    Angioplasty is a treatment in which a catheter with a deflated balloon at the tip is inserted into a narrowed artery. The balloon is then inflated at the site of the narrowing to help widen the artery and improve blood flow.

  • Brachytherapy

    Brachytherapy uses radiation to keep blocked heart arteries open. It is usually combined with angioplasty and stent placement.

  • Bypass Surgery

    In bypass surgery, a vein from your leg — or an artery from your chest wall or arm — is used to bypass a coronary artery that is narrowed or blocked by fatty plaque buildup.

  • Medications

    Nitrates and other antianginals are commonly used to prevent, reduce, or relieve angina pain. They work by relaxing blood vessels and increasing the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart — while reducing the blood pressure that your heart has to pump against.

  • Stent Placement

    The placement of a small metal coil or tube into a narrowed artery to hold it open.

Services and Programs

Services and programs at Intermountain Heart Institute for patients with angina:

  • Cardiology – Diagnosis and Consultation

    The Cardiology program focuses on the diagnosis, medical management, and prevention of cardiovascular disease. Patients who have never seen a cardiologist often start here to have their symptoms diagnosed.

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