Chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart is known as angina pectoris or simply angina. People describe it as a feeling of tightness, squeezing, heaviness, burning and pressure behind the breastbone.
Other typical angina symptoms are pain in the upper central abdomen, back, neck area, jaw or shoulders as well as nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, sweating and dizziness. Women may experience these symptoms even without the chest pain or with chest discomfort.
Major risk factors for chest pain or angina are cigarette smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle and a family history of heart disease.
Due to similar symptoms, many times angina and heart attacks are mistaken for each other. The difference is that angina pain is usually not as bad as that of a heart attack and does not last longer than 5 to 10 minutes.
More often than not, it comes on during exercise and goes away when you rest. Also, it usually goes away after taking a prescription medicine, such as nitroglycerin. But one must not take angina lightly as it can be a warning sign for a future heart attack.
Angina is usually a symptom of plaque buildup in the arteries to the heart. Chest pain, however, can also be a symptom of a muscle spasm, upper respiratory infection, stomach ulcer, indigestion and bladder diseases.
To treat angina, you may need medication prescribed by a doctor. You can also use some simple home remedies to reduce the blockage in the arteries and thus help reduce the frequency of, or even eliminate, the chest pain.