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Chest Pain (Angina)

Angina is chest pain or discomfort you get when your heart muscle does not get enough blood. It may feel like pressure or a squeezing pain in your chest. It may feel like indigestion. You may also feel pain in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw or back. Angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common heart disease. CAD happens when a sticky substance called plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart, reducing blood flow. Tests & treatments are same as those for Coronary Artery Disease.

Risk Factors

  • Smoking
  • Poor Diet
  • High Stress
  • Alcohol
  • Being Overweight
  • Lack of Exercise
  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure

Test & Diagnostics

Blood Test

You may need blood taken from a blood vessel in your hand, arm, or the bend in your elbow. More than one blood draw may be needed depending on the tests that are ordered.

Lead Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)

An electrocardiogram is a recording of the electrical currents that cause the heart to beat. From this recording, your doctor can detect many abnormalities including disturbances of heart rhythm and abnormal thickening of the heart muscle.

Cardiac Catheterization (Angiography)

A cardiac catheterization procedure provides your doctor with information about your heart's arteries, valves, blood flow, and pumping action. Depending upon your condition, this test can be performed as a one-day procedure where you can go home the same day, or it may require a brief admission to the hospital. During the procedure, the doctor inserts a very thin tube called a catheter into your affected artery (usually in your groin area) and directs it through the artery into the aorta, then into your heart.


Also called an echo, this test involves ultrasound, using sound waves to show pictures of the size and shape of your heart. An echo also looks at how your heart moves when it is beating. These pictures are seen on a screen. This test can help identify problems such as narrowing or leaking of valves, heart defects such as abnormal communication between the right and left sides of the heart, and heart muscle malfunction.

Exercise Stress Test

This test helps your doctor see the changes that take place in your heart during exercise. It checks for blockages in the arteries of your heart. During the test, an EKG is done while you ride an exercise bike or walk on a treadmill. Caregivers want to know if you have chest pain or trouble breathing. You may require an exercise stress test with imaging-x-ray pictures of the blood flow to your heart (also called nuclear imaging), which also requires giving you IV medications.

Treatments & Procedures

Angioplasty and Stenting

Baystate's cardiac laboratories are open for emergencies 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for emergency procedures on patients from our hospital and from other hospitals in our region. In the cardiac catheterization laboratory, you will have an angiogram, a test in which a dye is injected into a blood vessel to determine if it is blocked. If it is, you may then be treated with angioplasty. This may be also called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). During an angioplasty, the doctor makes a small puncture hole into one or more of your blood vessels (usually in the groin area). A small wire with a balloon on the end is sent up into a blocked artery in your heart. The doctor inflates the balloon to push the plaque (fatty deposits) against the artery wall. This makes more room for blood to flow. If necessary, a stent is then placed in the artery to maintain blood flow. A stent is a metal, mesh tube that is placed in the artery to help it stay open after angioplasty.

Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery

This surgery is also known as CABG, heart bypass surgery, or open-heart surgery. A CABG can improve blood flow to the heart by using an artery or vein from your chestwall, arm, or leg. These vessels then send blood around the blocked artery. This surgery may also decrease your risk of having a heart attack in the future