Patients may not refer to their symptoms as true pain. They may describe a deep discomfort or unpleasant sensation that is hard to define, often as a pressure sensation, tightness, squeezing, or weight on the chest. Angina is not pleuritic or positional.
How long does an episode of angina last?
Angina may last from 2-5 minutes after cessation of exercise or taking nitroglycerin. If symptoms last longer than 20 minutes, they are usually due to myocardial necrosis (myocardial infarction) or are noncardiac in etiology. Brief, fleeting pains are rarely cardiac in origin.
What factors may induce or exacerbate angina, and what may relieve it?
Anything that increases cardiac work (myocardial oxygen demand) and/or decreases myocardial oxygen supply may precipitate or worsen angina. Rest, by decreasing myocardial work and oxygen demand, often relieves angina. Nitroglycerin, which dilates coronary arteries, allowing increased blood flow and oxygen delivery to th,e myocardium, also relieves angina.