Emergency advice

Angina attack:

  1. Tell them to sit and take angina medication.
  2. Call 999 if first attack or no improvement with angina medication.

What is an angina attack?

Angina is pain in the chest. It occurs when arteries supplying blood to the heart become narrowed and restrict blood flow. This can happen when doing exercise, including walking. It can also happen with increased excitement.

Signs and symptoms

The casualty may:

  • have a dull, heavy or vice-like central chest pain, that may spread to their jaw and down one or both arms
  • have pain which may ease with rest
  • have shortness of breath
  • experience sudden and extreme tiredness
  • feel anxious.

What to do

  1. Instruct the casualty to stop what they are doing and help them to sit down. Try to reassure them and make them comfortable.

    The best position is on the floor with their knees bent and their head and shoulders supported.

    • You could place cushions behind them or under their knees.
    • If the casualty is not diagnosed with angina and has chest pain call 999/112 for emergency help.
    • If this is their first angina attack, they have no angina medication on them, the pain comes on at rest, is more frequent, worse or different to previous attacks, advise them to seek urgent medical aid.
  2. Ask if the casualty has any angina medication, like a spray or tablets. If they do, let them take it themselves but help them if needed.

  3. If the pain is still there five minutes after taking the medication, suggest they take a second dose and keep any bystanders away.

  4. If they are still in pain after another five minutes, or the pain returns, suspect it’s a heart attack. Call 999 or 112 for emergency help.

  5. If the pain subsides within 15 minutes after they’ve rested or taken medication, they should usually be able to go back to what they were doing.

    • If they are worried, tell them to seek medical advice.

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