Symptoms of angina pectoris

Pain is the main symptom of angina. Patients describe the pain as a feeling of constriction, sensation of burning, sensation of pressing, as if a large weight has been placed on their chest and making it impossible to breathe.

The pain is localized behind the sternum, expands in the area around the heart, the left shoulder, on the inside of the left arm, and thereafter in the left forearm along the ulnar nerve, reaching the left pinkie, and the medial half of the fourth finger (ring finger).

In other cases, pain may be felt in the left jaw, in the direction of the throat. Patients describe this as though they are being caught, choked. The pain comes in spells (lasting around 5 minutes, and rarely lasting for up to 20 minutes).

A main characteristic of this type of pain would be that it affects the patient during physical exertion (even walking). The pain stops when the patient rests, or when they utilize nitroglycerine. Pain can also come as a consequence of the aforementioned conditions (cold temp., extreme emotions etc).


Patients start to feel pain or discomfort:

  • Occurs when the heart must work harder, usually during physical exertion
  • Doesn't come as a surprise, and episodes of pain tend to be alike
  • Usually lasts a short time (5 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
  • They are upset
  • Anxiety
  • Intense fear of potential impending death
  • Immobility (they do not move)

At this moment, there may be intermittent disruptions in the contractions and retractions of the blood vessels which manifest as:

  • Paleness
  • Perspiration on the forehead
  • Elevated levels of spit production
  • Burping
  • An urgent need to defecate, urinate
  • At times, urinary retention may occur (They cannot pee)

There are no changes in pulse, but extrasystoles (heart beats out of turn) may occur.
Blood pressure may increase slightly, body temperature remains normal, blood examinations such as the leukocyte test, erythrosedimentation etc do not exhibit any drastic changes.

It would be wise to perform an EcG during one of the pain spells, which would exhibit the negativization of the T tooth. (just basically show smth different that wouldn’t show up unless the patient is experiencing the pain).

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 24 Jan 2018
Medical Author: Dr. med. Diana Hysi