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Angina pectoris (angina)

Angina pectoris is a chest pain that occurs when the heart muscle cells do not get enough blood to perform their pumping function properly. This pain is a complaint of the heart. Angina pectoris is one of the symptoms of coronary heart disease.

When does it appear?

It occurs when the heart no longer receives enough oxygen to cope with the tasks it is asked to perform.
This lack of oxygen is called ischaemia.
The consequences of this can be seen in the electrocardiographic tracings of the heart. The analysis of these tracings, obtained at rest and/or during exercise, allows the doctor to get an idea of where the ischaemia is present and therefore to locate the coronary artery that is responsible. It also allows a rough assessment of the extent of the ischaemia. Subsequently, many other examinations allow all this to be clarified.


The usual symptom is a feeling of tightness, heaviness or tightness in the chest which may spread to the neck, jaw or arms, especially the left arm. This pain is often accompanied by a feeling of shortness of breath, malaise, sweating or nausea.

In summary

To simplify, angina pectoris is most often related to the narrowing of a coronary artery by the protrusion of one or more plaques in the area where the blood flows.

When the heart works harder, for example during physical effort, the amount of blood that can pass through the narrowed duct is insufficient to feed the heart muscle, which manifests itself as pain in the chest. When angina pectoris occurs during exercise, it usually disappears within a few minutes when the person stops the exercise. The pain of angina pectoris is relieved by the use of nitroxide, a drug that dilates the vessels, particularly the coronary arteries, extremely rapidly.

When the narrowing of the coronary artery is already very severe, the same characteristic pain may occur even at rest.