Angina is a type of chest pain that someone gets when the
arteries carrying blood to their heart muscle become narrowed. This
can restrict the blood supply and so cause pain called an
An angina attack is different from:
- • a heart
attack ‒ which is when the blood supply to the
heart muscle is blocked, and
- • a cardiac arrest ‒
when the heart actually stops working.
Angina attacks are usually caused by physical exertion,
stress or excitement. But if someone has unstable angina, then
their attacks can be unpredictable, with no obvious cause.
Angina is not life-threatening on its own. But, someone who
suffers from it is at far greater risk of having life-threatening
problems, such as a heart attack or stroke.
If the casualty rests and take angina medication, the pain
should only last a few minutes. If the pain lasts longer, presume
it’s a heart attack.
Watch our video - angina attack
What to look for - angina attack
The four key things to look for are:
- 1. Pain - in the chest, which may spread to the jaw and
- 2. Shortness of breath
- 3. Sudden and extreme tiredness
- 4. Anxiety
What you need to do - angina attack
Help the casualty to stop what they’re doing and sit down
straight away. Reassure them and make them comfortable ‒
this should help ease the pain.
Ask if they have any angina medication, like tablets or a
If they have, then help them to take it. If the pain is still
there five minutes after taking the medication, suggest
they take a second dose. If they’re still in pain after another
five minutes, or the pain returns, presume it’s a heart attack.
Call 999 or 112 for medical help.
If they haven’t got any medication, and the pain doesn’t go away
when they sit down or rest, then call 999 or 112 for medical help
If the pain goes away completely within 15 minutes after they’ve
rested and/or taken medication, they should usually be able to go
back to what they were doing, if it’s not too strenuous.
If they’re worried about what’s happened, tell them to see their