Angina in older people

What is Angina?

Angina is a pain or discomfort felt in the chest and usually caused by coronary heart disease. However, in some cases, the pain may affect some people in only the arm, neck, stomach or jaw

Angina often feels like a heaviness or tightness in your chest, but this may spread to your arms, neck, jaw, back, or stomach as well

Some people describe the feeling of severe tightness, while others say it’s more of a dull ache

Symptoms of experiencing shortness of breath have been reported too. Angina is often brought on by physical activity, an emotional upset, cold weather, or after a meal

Symptoms usually subside after a few minutes

Can you prevent Angina?

Unfortunately, you can’t reverse coronary heart disease, but you can help prevent your angina and the condition from getting worse by keeping your heart healthy. It is important to:

  • stop smoking
  • control high blood pressure
  • reduce your cholesterol level
  • be physically active
  • achieve and maintain a healthy weight
  • control your blood glucose if you have diabetes
  • eat a healthy, balanced diet and only drink moderate amounts of alcohol
  • some medications can also be used to help prevent angina episodes

How is Angina diagnosed and treated?

Your doctor may be able to diagnose whether you have angina from the symptoms that you describe. Alternatively, they may want to carry out a health check, or send you for some tests

There is medication available too that can help control your symptoms, whereas some people require treatments such as angioplasty or heart bypass surgery.

Living a healthy lifestyle is a very important part of your treatment too

Everyday life with angina

Many people with angina have a good quality of life and continue with their normal daily activities

Your doctor or nurse will be able to advise you on your daily activity and any lifestyle changes you may need to make

What should you do if your ageing parent gets chest pain?

If they have not been diagnosed with heart disease and experience chest pains, call 999 immediately

The below information is for you if you have already been diagnosed with coronary heart disease and have a glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) spray or tablets

Sometimes they may experience pain or discomfort and often this will be angina that you can manage at home with your GTN

However, it could be a heart attack.  Here’s what to do if they feel:

  • A crushing pain, heaviness or tightness in your chest
  • A pain in their arm, throat, neck, jaw, back or stomach
  • They may also become sweaty, feel light-headed, sick or become short of breath

Actions  to take  with chest pains

  • Stop what they are doing and sit down and rest
  • Take GTN spray and tablets, according to doctor or nurse’s instructions. The pain should ease within a few minutes – if it doesn’t, they should take a second dose
  • If the pain does not ease within a few minutes after the second dose, call 999 immediately
  • If they are not allergic to aspirin, chew one adult tablet (300mg). If they don’t have any aspirin,or you are not sure if they are allergic to aspirin, you should make them rest until the ambulance arrives



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