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HealthInfo Canterbury

Chest pain first aid

Important

Phone 111 for an ambulance straight away if you or someone close to you has heaviness, tightness, pressure, discomfort or pain in your:

  • chest
  • shoulder
  • jaw
  • arm
  • neck
  • middle of your back.

You might also feel sick, sweaty, short of breath, tired or dizzy.

If you take angina medication, follow your angina plan. If your symptoms don't go away within 10 minutes, or are severe or getting worse, phone 111 and ask for an ambulance.

If you're supporting someone with chest pain, help them get comfortable and try to keep them calm. If they lose consciousness and stop breathing, start CPR.

Many people who get chest pain are worried they might be having a heart attack, but chest pain can be due to a number of reasons, many of which aren't serious. If you're younger than 40 and otherwise well, the chance of your chest pain being serious is quite small. It's more likely that your pain is coming from your muscles and ribs or caused by indigestion. See your GP for advice as soon as possible.

There are serious and treatable causes of chest pain. So, if you have it, you should get advice as soon as possible.

If you have chest pain lasting more than 15 minutes and you don't know what it is, the cause may be serious. Do one of the following:

No matter what your age, seek medical help if you have chest pain after exercise or if you're also finding it hard to breathe, are sweating, feel sick or have a rapid heart rate.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed November 2019.

Page reference: 40988

Review key: HIFAD-141030