Angina : Symptoms

The main symptom of angina is chest pain. Some people also have other symptoms.

Chest pain

Chest pain could be angina if it:

  • feels tight, dull or heavy – although some people (especially women) may have sharp, stabbing pain
  • spreads to your left arm, neck, jaw or back
  • is triggered by physical exertion or stress
  • stops within a few minutes of resting

Other symptoms

Angina can also cause:

  • breathlessness
  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • pain in your lower chest or belly – similar to indigestion
  • feeling very tired

Some people have these symptoms without obvious chest pain.

What to do if you have symptoms of an angina attack

If you haven't been diagnosed with angina:

  1. Stop what you're doing and rest.
  2. Make an urgent appointment to see your GP if the symptoms go away in few minutes.
  3. Call 999 for an ambulance if the symptoms don't stop in a few minutes – this could be a heart attack.
  4. If aspirin is easily available and you're not allergic to it, chew 1 tablet while waiting for an ambulance – this can help if you're having a heart attack.

If you have already been diagnosed with angina:

  1. Stop what you're doing and rest.
  2. Take the medicine prescribed for you (glyceryl trinitrate, or GTN, spray or tablets).
  3. Take another dose after 5 minutes if the first one doesn't help.
  4. Call 999 for an ambulance if you still have symptoms 5 minutes after taking the second dose.