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Angina Symptoms

Symptoms Based on Type

While these are the general signs of angina, symptoms can also vary based on the type of angina a person has (stable, unstable, or variant angina).
Stable Angina
The pain or discomfort associated with stable angina:
  • Occurs when the heart must work harder, usually during physical exertion
  • Is expected, and episodes of pain tend to be alike
  • Usually lasts a short time (five minutes or less)
  • Is relieved by rest or medicine
  • May feel like gas or indigestion
  • May feel like chest pain that spreads to the arms, back, or other areas.
Unstable Angina
The pain or discomfort associated with unstable angina:
  • Often occurs at rest, while sleeping at night, or with little physical exertion
  • Is unexpected
  • Is more severe and lasts longer (as long as 30 minutes) than episodes of stable angina
  • Is usually not relieved with rest or medicine
  • May get continuously worse
  • May signal that a heart attack will happen soon.
Variant Angina Symptoms
The pain or discomfort associated with variant angina:
  • Usually occurs at rest and during the night or early morning hours
  • Tends to be severe
  • Is relieved by angina medicine.

What to Do When Angina Symptoms Occur

Chest pain that lasts longer than a few minutes and that is not relieved by rest or angina medicine may mean you are having -- or are about to have -- a heart attack. Call 911 right away if you experience this type of pain.
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