The difference between heart attack and angina

Experiencing angina
on Thu 23 Feb

Angina is essentially a warning sign that your heart is not getting enough blood and is usually brought on by strong emotions, extremes in temperature, a heavy meal or physical activity.


Unlike a heart attack it will typically go away after a few minutes when you rest.


It can be frightening in that the symptoms are similar to a heart attack with


  • Chest pain or pressure
  • A squeezing sensation in your chest
  • A sense of fullness in the centre of your chest and
  • Pain/discomfort in your neck, jaw, back, shoulder or left arm


Some people also feel breathless


Why do people get angina?


Actually for much the same reason that they are at risk of a heart attack so:


  • You are a man over fifty
  • Or you are a post menopausal woman
  • You have high blood pressure
  • You are diabetic
  • You are overweight
  • You smoke
  • You don’t exercise
  • You a family history of heart disease
  • You have high cholesterol


Don’t ignore an angina attack

If you are worried about any symptoms or your discomfort is coming on with more severity or regularity (i.e. you are experiencing angina on shorter and shorter walks) make an appointment to see your doctor.


Diagnosis might be possible from hearing about your symptoms but otherwise they will do some tests to confirm.


Treatment is likely to be a combination of medication and lifestyle advice.



If your angina suddenly feels worse or different and isn’t helped by medication you should call 999 and ask for an ambulance


We make every effort to ensure that all health advice on this website is accurate and up to date. However it is for information purposes and should not replace a visit to your doctor or health care professional.

As the advice is general in nature rather than specific to individuals we cannot accept any liability for actions arising from its use nor can we be held responsible for the content of any pages referenced by an external link.



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