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Chest Pains //

Chest pain of cardiac origin, or angina, is usually a heavy, constricting pain, felt in the centre of the chest.  It is typically due to narrowing of the heart arteries (coronary arteries) due to coronary atheroma, which restricts blood supply to the heart muscle. The pain can radiate to the arms (more frequently the left), neck and jaw. Less frequently, it can be felt in the lower chest, stomach or back. It is typically precipitated by physical exertion and relieved by rest.  The pains can be worse in cold weather or after eating a meal. The symptoms are not the same for everyone and some peoples symptoms differ from usual, so called 'atypical' angina.


Chest pain can also be due to problems with the muscles and bones in the chest, or to lung and stomach conditions. The safest approach is to assume that any chest pain is cardiac in origin unless proven otherwise.  If you are experiencing pains that may be angina, then you should make arrangements to see your GP.


If cardiac chest pain occurs at rest this could be so called 'unstable angina' or a 'heart attack'. ​Typically, the pain of a heart attack is severe and it may be associated with sweating, clamminess, vomiting, a racing heart and lightheadedness . You should seek emergency help by dialling 999. Remember every minute counts.  Heart attacks occur when a coronary artery blocks completely and this is commonly treated by stenting the coronary vessel open in an emergency procedure called a primary coronary angioplasty.

BHF Angina Information Leaflet

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