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Angina is chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscles. It’s not usually life threatening, but it’s a warning sign that you could be at risk of a heart attack or stroke.

With treatment and healthy lifestyle changes, it’s possible to control angina and reduce the risk of these more serious problems.

Symptoms

The main symptom of angina is chest pain.

Chest pain caused by angina usually:

  • feels tight, dull or heavy – it may spread to your left arm, neck, jaw or back
  • is triggered by physical exertion or stress
  • stops within a few minutes of resting

Sometimes there might be other symptoms like feeling sick or breathless.

Read more about the symptoms of angina.

When to get medical help

If you haven’t been diagnosed with angina, get an urgent GP appointment if you have an attack of chest pain that stops within a few minutes of resting.

They can check if it might be a heart problem and refer you to a hospital for tests.

Read more about how angina is diagnosed.

Call 999 for an ambulance if you have chest pain that doesn’t stop after a few minutes – this could be a heart attack.

Types

There are 2 main types of angina you can be diagnosed with:

  • stable angina (more common) – attacks have a trigger (such as stress or exercise) and stop within a few minutes of resting
  • unstable angina (more serious) – attacks are more unpredictable (they may not have a trigger) and can continue despite resting

Some people develop unstable angina after having stable angina.

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