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Angina (Angina Pectoris)

Angina is chest pain or discomfort that occurs when an area of your heart muscle doesn't get enough oxygen-rich blood.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

About Angina

Angina (an-JI-nuh or AN-juh-nuh) is chest pain or discomfort that occurs if an area of your heart muscle doesn't get enough oxygen-rich blood.

Angina may feel like pressure or squeezing in your chest. The pain also can occur in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. Angina pain may even feel like indigestion.

Angina isn't a disease; it's a symptom of an underlying heart problem. Angina usually is a symptom of coronary heart disease (CHD).

CHD is the most common type of heart disease in adults. It occurs if a waxy substance called plaque (plak) builds up on the inner walls of your coronary arteries. These arteries carry oxygen-rich blood to your heart.

Plaque narrows and stiffens the coronary arteries. This reduces the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle, causing chest pain. Plaque buildup also makes it more likely that blood clots will form in your arteries. Blood clots can partially... Read more about Angina

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Chinese herbal medicine suxiao jiuxin wan for angina pectoris

Angina pectoris is pain or discomfort within the chest, typically provoked by exertion or anxiety. Angina is a sign that someone is at increased risk of heart attack, cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death. The aim of treatment for angina is to control the symptoms and prevent a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack. In western medicine, treatment is usually with beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and nitrates (nitroglycerin). Suxiao jiuxin wan is widely used in China in conjunction with these western treatments. This review found weak evidence to suggest suxiao jiuxin wan alone or in combination with other anti‐anginal drugs reduces the symptoms of angina. However, because of the quality of the research, the role of suxiao jiuxin wan is uncertain and more high quality trials are required to assess the effects of suxiao jiuxin wan in the long term.

Does enhanced external counterpulsation reduce symptoms of chronic and refractory angina pectoris?

Enhanced external counterpulsation is a treatment that involves placing cuffs around the legs of a patient, which when inflated assist blood to return to the heart and as the cuffs deflate allow blood vessels to return to normal.  It is believed that this treatment may alleviate some of the symptoms of angina.  Treatment consists of one hour daily sessions for a period of up to seven weeks and is performed in a medically supervised environment.

Effect of dengzhanhua injection for angina pectoris: a systematic review

Bibliographic details: Cao WZ, Lan D, Zhang T, Tang C, Wu TX, Liu GJ.  Effect of dengzhanhua injection for angina pectoris: a systematic review. Chinese Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine 2005; 5(4): 317-322

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Summaries for consumers

Chinese herbal medicine suxiao jiuxin wan for angina pectoris

Angina pectoris is pain or discomfort within the chest, typically provoked by exertion or anxiety. Angina is a sign that someone is at increased risk of heart attack, cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death. The aim of treatment for angina is to control the symptoms and prevent a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack. In western medicine, treatment is usually with beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and nitrates (nitroglycerin). Suxiao jiuxin wan is widely used in China in conjunction with these western treatments. This review found weak evidence to suggest suxiao jiuxin wan alone or in combination with other anti‐anginal drugs reduces the symptoms of angina. However, because of the quality of the research, the role of suxiao jiuxin wan is uncertain and more high quality trials are required to assess the effects of suxiao jiuxin wan in the long term.

Does enhanced external counterpulsation reduce symptoms of chronic and refractory angina pectoris?

Enhanced external counterpulsation is a treatment that involves placing cuffs around the legs of a patient, which when inflated assist blood to return to the heart and as the cuffs deflate allow blood vessels to return to normal.  It is believed that this treatment may alleviate some of the symptoms of angina.  Treatment consists of one hour daily sessions for a period of up to seven weeks and is performed in a medically supervised environment.

This review did not find strong evidence to demonstrate the effect of traditional Chinese herbal products in the treatment of stable angina

Traditional Chinese herbal products (TCHP) are often used to treat patients with stable angina but there is not sufficient evidence to show that TCHP are effective. The authors of this review undertook a systematic review of the potential benefits and safety of TCHP in patients with stable angina. Three randomised controlled studies with a total of 216 patients were identified. Only one small trial was able to detect benefits of using TCHP compared with nitrates in improving angina symptoms. The remaining two trials were inconclusive. Due to the very small number of included studies and participants in the studies, TCHP should be used with caution. We recommend that larger‐scale high quality randomised controlled trials of TCHP are required to strengthen the evidence for the efficacy and safety of certain TCHP in treating angina.

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Terms to know

Cardiac
Having to do with the heart.
Coronary Artery
A principal artery that originates in the aorta. It supplies blood to the muscular tissue of the heart.
Heart
The hollow, muscular organ that maintains the circulation of the blood.
Ischemia
Lack of blood supply to a part of the body. Ischemia may cause tissue damage due to the lack of oxygen and nutrients.
Oxygenated Blood
Oxygen-rich blood.
Plaque
In medicine, a small, abnormal patch of tissue on a body part or an organ. Plaques may also be a build-up of substances from a fluid, such as cholesterol in the blood vessels.

More about Angina

Photo of an adult

Also called: Ischaemic chest pain, Anginal pain, Angina pectoris syndrome, Cardiac angina syndrome, Anginal syndromes, Stenocardia, Cardiac angina, Ischemic chest pain, AP

See Also: Coronary Heart Disease

Other terms to know: See all 6
Cardiac, Coronary Artery, Heart

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