Symptoms - Angina

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

When chest pain could be angina

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 of angina

Angina can also cause:

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

Some people have these symptoms without obvious chest pain.

If you have symptoms of an angina attack

What you need to do depends on if you have been diagnosed with angina or not.

If you have not 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 999/112 for an ambulance if the symptoms don't stop in a few minutes – this could be a heart attack.
  4. If aspirin is 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 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 does not help.
  4. Call 999/112 for an ambulance if you still have symptoms 5 minutes after taking the second dose.


Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 25 March 2021
Next review due: 25 March 2024

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