Angina Pectoris, commonly known as Angina, is chest pain due to ischaemia (lack of blood and therefore oxygen supply to the heart muscle). This is usually caused by obstruction or spasm of the coronary arteries (two arteries supplying the heart with blood). Angina is usually brought on by exertion or stress, but can be suddenly onset at rest.


Stable Angina


Signs & Symptoms:

  • The most common symptom is a feeling of pain or discomfort in the chest, which can feel tight, dull or heavy (often described as vice like) and last just a few minutes (3-8 minutes).
  • Sudden, usually during exercise, stress, extreme weather or even eating.
  • Pain in chest area, or can be in either arm, neck, jaw back or shoulders.
  • Skin pale, clammy sweaty.
  • Short of breath.


Factors that can cause the symptoms of Angina to occur are called Angina Triggers.



  • Stop what they are doing and sit down (half sitting position is good).
  • See if they have their own medication (GTN spray or tablets) and ask them to use it.
  • Reduce any causes of stress or anxiety.
  • If the pain does not go away dial 999.


Unstable Angina

The Symptoms of unstable Angina are the same as for stable Angina but they do not follow the usual pattern:


  • Can develop without any angina triggers present.
  • Can persist even when you are resting.
  • Can last longer than 5 minutes.
  • May not respond to GTN.

We hope you find this article useful. This is one in an alphabetical series of articles addressing various symptoms and their first aid treatments. If you would like more information on related resuscitation and first aid training, please get in touch.


You might also be interested in our blog. One of our more popular articles is about quality or quantity when it comes to first aid training.


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