Angina is a pain or
discomfort felt in the chest, and usually caused
by coronary heart disease. However, in some
cases the pain may affect some people in only the arm, neck,
stomach or jaw.
What does angina feel like?
Angina often feels like a heaviness or
tightness in your chest, but this
may spread to your arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach as
well. Some people describe the feeling of severe
tightness, while others say it’s more of a dull
Symptoms of experiencing shortness of
breath have been reported too.
Angina is often brought on by physical
activity, an emotional upset, cold weather or after a meal.
Symptoms usually subside after a few minutes.
If your symptom pattern changes, you should
speak to your doctor immediately.
Can I prevent angina?
Unfortunately you can’t reverse coronary heart disease, but you
can help prevent your angina and the condition from getting worse
by keeping your heart healthy. It is important to:
Some medications can also be used to help
prevent angina episodes.
How is angina diagnosed and treated?
Your doctor may be able to diagnose whether you have angina
from the symptoms that you describe.
Alternatively, they may want to carry out a health check or send you for some tests.
There is medication available too
that can help control your symptoms, whereas some people
require treatments such as angioplasty
or heart bypass surgery. Living a
healthy lifestyle is a very important part of your
Everyday life with angina
Many people with angina have a good quality of life and continue
with their normal daily activities. Your doctor or nurse will be
able to advise you on your daily activity and any lifestyle changes
you may need to make.
What should I do if I get chest pain?
If you have not been diagnosed with heart disease and
experience chest pains, call 999 immediately.
information is for you if you have already been diagnosed with
coronary heart disease and have a glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) spray
or tablets. Sometimes you may experience pain or discomfort and
often this will be angina that you can manage at home with your
GTN. However, it could be a heart
. Here’s what to do if you feel:
- A crushing pain, heaviness or tightness in your chest.
- A pain in your arm, throat, neck, jaw, back or stomach.
- You may also become sweaty, feel light-headed, sick or become
short of breath.
- Stop what you are doing and sit down and
- Take your GTN spray and tablets, according to
your doctor or nurse’s instructions. The pain should ease within a
few minutes – if it doesn’t, take a second dose.
- If the pain does not ease within a few minutes
after your second dose, call 999 immediately.
- If you’re not allergic to aspirin, chew one
adult tablet (300mg). If you don’t have any aspirin or you are not
sure if you're allergic to aspirin, you should rest until the
Even if your symptoms don’t match the above but you
suspect you’re having a heart attack, call 999
Researching chest pain
Your donations are funding BHF Professor
Keith Fox. He leads an international study aimed at improving
treatment for people who go to hospital with chest pain.
The study is also looking at how the chosen treatment impacts