Anginal pain (angina pectoris) appears when the heart suffers from a lack of oxygen supply due to obstruction of the coronary arteries.

What is it

Angina pectoris” refers to an intense, sudden, gloomy pain that appears in the center of the chest, similar to the sensation of having a steel bar pressing on your chest.

Depending on the form and severity of the disease, anginal pain can occur during physical exertion or even at rest; Typically, it lasts several minutes and is accompanied by a strong sense of anguish, similar to that felt in the event of a heart attack.


Angina is caused by the presence of partially clogged coronary arteries, which fail to supply the heart muscle with enough oxygen and nutrients to support its contraction. Pain is the alarm signal of this suffering of the heart.

Most common symptoms

Pain and tightness in the center of the chest and sense of anguish are the main symptoms of anginal attack and can sometimes also be accompanied by shortness of breath and sudden tiredness, intense sweating, feeling faint and palpitations associated with vertigo.

Furthermore, the disease can significantly affect the quality of life between one attack and another, both for the objective limitation in the performance of daily activities (in severe forms, fortunately rare) and for the associated negative psychological repercussions (anxiety and depression).


The main complications of angina depend essentially on the increase in obstruction of the coronary arteries, accompanied by a progressive worsening of symptoms, with more frequent attacks (not only during physical exertion, but also at rest) and constant fatigue, weakness and difficulty breathing.

When the coronary arteries are very obstructed, moreover, the risk of heart attack increases considerably.


In most cases, angina occurs in a mild or moderate form and can be kept under control for a long time with safe and effective drugs, avoiding intense muscular strain.

The basic therapy involves the intake of calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, nitroderivatives and / or antiplatelet agents, which the doctor chooses, doses and associates in relation to the intensity of the disorder, the presence of any other diseases and the individual response to treatment.

In any case, these are drugs that must be taken regularly, every day, and that do not cure the disease, but prevent its manifestations.

In addition, nitroderivatives are the reference drugs to relieve anginal pain when an acute attack occurs, but they can also be used for long-term basic therapy. Let’s see what are the most suitable formulations:

Therapy Formulation
Treatment of an acute attack Tablets to be dissolved under the tongue to ensure very rapid absorption
Long-term basic treatment Transdermal patch, which progressively releases nitroderivatives through the skin, ensuring constant and prolonged coverage

When to consult your doctor

The family doctor has a limited role in the management of angina: he should be reported worsening of the general physical state, the feeling of having more difficulty in carrying out daily activities and any other extemporaneous disorders that may be added to the underlying disease.

For the most specific cardiac symptoms and for all problems related to the use or effect of angina drugs, reference should always be made to the cardiologist.

On the occasion of an acute attack of angina, however, you must call 118 directly and immediately contact a cardiology emergency center, without waiting for the pain to subside spontaneously. As in the case of heart attack, even for angina every minute is precious.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

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