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 of angina

The main symptom of angina is chest pain.

Chest pain caused by angina usually:

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

When to get medical help

If you have not 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.

Find out more about how angina is diagnosed

Call 999 for an ambulance if you have chest pain that does not stop after a few minutes. This could be a heart attack.


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

Some people develop unstable angina after having stable angina.

Treatment for angina

You'll probably need to take several different medicines for the rest of your life.

You may be given medicine to:

If medicines are not suitable or do not help, an operation to improve blood flow to your heart muscles may be recommended.

Living with angina

If it's well controlled, there's no reason why you cannot have a largely normal life with angina.

You can usually continue to do most of your normal activities.

You'll probably need to make healthy lifestyle changes, such as:

This can help reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Causes of angina

Angina is usually caused by the arteries supplying blood to the heart muscles becoming narrowed by a build-up of fatty substances.

This is called atherosclerosis.

Things that can increase your risk of atherosclerosis include:

Angina can also be caused by other conditions affecting the heart and arteries.

Page last reviewed: 22 April 2021
Next review due: 22 April 2024