Harvard Health Letter

Angina: What can happen if a heart is in need of blood

A primer on what can happen if a heart is in need of blood.

You're walking up the stairs and feel some tightness in your chest. You've just had a nice, big meal and start to feel an odd, squeezing sensation in — this is weird — your jaw. You wake up in the middle of the night, and it feels like someone is sitting on your chest.

In all three scenarios, one of the first, scary thoughts is bound to be "Am I having a heart attack?" You may be, and you should get medical attention right away. But another possibility is that you are experiencing a bout of angina.

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