Difference Between Angina and Heart Attack


Angina and Heart attack are opposite ends of the same issue. The issue is the blood and oxygen supply to the heart muscle. Both conditions cause chest pain and are often confused. When a person is suffering from Angina, the heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen. The heart muscle is not getting enough fresh blood. The body calls out for attention to the problem. It does this by producing chest pain, and sometimes jaw pain. If the problem is not corrected, over time – the heart muscle dies and when it dies (it stops) we have a heart attack.

You can compare this with a fish for an example. If you remove a fish from the water, he cannot get enough air and he panics. He flops and jumps and tries to say “I need more air!” If you correct the issue and put the fish back in the water, he lives and he calms down and things go back to normal. That is Angina. If you do not correct the problem and leave the fish in its current condition, it will die. When the fish dies – it ceases – that is a heart attack.

People sometimes get this confused with a stroke. A stroke has nothing to do with the heart. A stroke is when the blood/oxygen is not getting to the brain. Without the blood/oxygen the brain dies. Of course when the brain dies the rest of the body follows.

The most common type of Angina is called Stable Angina. This is when the heart muscle reacts during exertion. Another words, you may have chest pains, shortness of breath, pains in the jaw or arm and other symptoms during exercise when the heart is working harder. When you rest, the pain goes away. In most cases of Angina, this is what happens. It is short lived, lasting five minutes or less. It can be controlled with medication and it can be predicted. By working with your doctor, he may prescribe a medication to take before exertion to keep the symptoms at bay.

When Angina becomes Unstable Angina, it behaves exactly like a heart attack and often it is. If the pain last more than 30 minutes, and does not go away with rest and your medication, seek medical attention.

Angina Symptoms

  • Chest pain (often a squeezing sensation)
  • Pain in arm, face, shoulder back
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling of heartburn

Heart Attack Symptoms

  • Chest pain (doesn’t go away with rest)
  • Pain in arm (left face, shoulder, back, tooth
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

As you can see the symptoms are the same. You must pay attention to your body and even if you have Angina, know when to seek medical attention.