Angina a.k.a. Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS)

Angina is a term used for chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle. Angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease and narrowing of one or more coronary arteries. Angina is typically described as squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightness or pain in your chest.

A new onset of undiagnosed and medically untreated chest pain should be assumed to be a heart attack (Myocardial Infarction or MI).  Any chest pain that lasts longer than 10 minutes and does not resolve with rest or nitroglycerine should be assumed to be an MI.  Call 911.  Do not drive, or have someone drive you to the Emergency Department.

Angina symptoms in women:

Women often experience symptoms such as nausea, shortness of breath, abdominal pain or extreme fatigue, with or without chest pain. Or a woman may feel discomfort in her neck, jaw or back or stabbing pain instead of the more typical chest pressure. These differences may lead to delays in seeking treatment.

Stable Angina:

  • Develops when your heart works harder, such as when you exercise or climb stairs
  • Can usually be predicted and the pain is usually similar to previous types of chest pain you’ve had
  • Lasts a short time, perhaps five minutes or less
  • Disappears sooner if you rest or use your angina medication

Unstable Angina (medical emergency as it is often not possible to distinguish from heart attack):

  • Occurs even at rest
  • Is a change in your usual pattern of angina
  • Is unexpected
  • Is usually more severe and lasts longer than stable angina, maybe as long as 30 minutes
  • May not disappear with rest or use of angina medication
  • Might signal a heart attack



About the Author:

Connie Jorsvik
Connie Jorsvik, BSN, Owner Connie Jorsvik was an RN for 25 years—15 of that in cardiac critical care—and left her profession because of her own health challenges. During the years she was a nurse, she was always a patient advocate above all other duties she performed. She saved many lives because she stood up to physicians; because she was meticulous in her care and observations; and worked to never-ever take short-cuts with policies, procedures and protocols (they’re there for a reason).