Angina pain?: Hi, I have just joined... - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation

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Angina pain?


Hi, I have just joined the site. Two years ago I had a stent fitted after unstable angina was diagnosed been ok on the medication apart from a few eye problems which I was told could be early sign of TIA (mini stroke)

I try and eat healthy and exercise at the cardiac rehabilitation center I went to after the stent was done.

Just recently I have had episodes where I suddenly become very tired with a uncomfortable feeling in my chest, but not like when I had angina. Could this be angina again and should I use a GTN spray? It goes away again after anything from 15 minutes to up to an hour and as quickly as it started.

Has anyone else experience of this?


12 Replies

Hi Anke - there's certainly a chance this could be angina so I'd let your GP know and use your spray if you need to. If it resolves the uncomfortable feeling you're having then it's probably angina and they want to tweak your medications or do some further tests. I'd also make sure you're sitting down somewhere safe when you use your spray, as there's also a chance that it could be due to low blood pressure and the spray could cause you to become light-headed and fall if you're standing up.

I hope this helps.

Take care,


anke123 in reply to Hidden

Hi Chris,

Thanks for that. As I was writing it, I thought I should go and see the GP and I will. I did check my blood pressure at home and it was lower than usual, so I will go and make an appointment.


Hi Anke & welcome.

When I was in the cardiac rehab classes I was having discomfort fairly often, but at the time I wasn't sure whether to use the GTN spray. I asked the nurses and was told to use the spray, and if the discomfort goes away it is most likely heart related. At the time I thought the answer was a bit twee but now know it isn't. They can't physically feel what you feel so their response is the best they can give. The times I've used the spray since it's worked, so better safe than sorry.

Chris makes a very important point about where you use the spray but how is also important, to me at least. When I had the HA, the ambulance nurses gave me the double spray and it knocked me clean out as it dropped my blood pressure so quickly. A couple of months ago I had relatively minor discomfort and jaw ache so sat down and had a double tap on the spray. It didn't stop it completely so after 5 minutes I had another double tap... at that point I went light headed, dizzy and passed out again. I must have had a spasm while out as I woke up with both shins cut and bleeding where I'd kicked the lounge table!

I now start with either a single or double blast on the spray (depending on severity) and only do it whilst lying down, then, if I have to, I follow up with just another single blast. It's the second double tap that took me over the edge both times. I've never been one to faint or anything like that so it's definitely the GTN spray that did it. My GP had no advice to give.

The GTN spray is important and should be used, but just be aware of what it can do, and use it in a safe environment.

All the best.


anke123 in reply to Marc68

Hi Marc, thanks for that.I have not had to use my spray for a long time, suppose that why I was a bit reluctant, but I do remember one time I sprayed a bit too much and felt awful, but luckily did not pass out. It does really help to share our thoughts on these matters.

I will be careful and see how it goes.


Marc68 in reply to anke123

Hi Anke, no problem.

The last time I passed out it knocked me sideways and I hardly made it off the sofa for about 15 hours! I'm wary of the GTN spray after that but it is important to use it if you need to. The difficult thing is deciding when, or if, to use it.

I was on the BHF forum but there were so few people posting that it was pretty much pointless. I'm fairly new to this site myself but already it is proving to be an excellent resource and means of support.

Take care.


Sina-6491 in reply to Marc68

Yes I think we all pretty much have the same effects from GTN. But some maybe suffer a bit more than others.

I found it made me really light headed. And I got a real booming headache each time I took it. However. I have never actually fainted from it.

At my rehab they told me I could take it to help me up the hills as it was a real struggle before bypass.

So I tried a couple of timees, it maid me giddy again, but it did hell on those hills.....

Kristin1812Heart Star in reply to Sina-6491

I also had specific advice about hills, which worked a treat. Start walking in the flat, slowly at first, then speed up, till your heart is working harder, then up the hill.

Brilliant! No spray was needed!

Kristin1812Heart Star in reply to Marc68

Hi Marc. I found the GTN spray ghastly at first, with thumping headaches afterwards. But I've got used to it, and headaches have gone. The cardiac liaison nurse told me that the spray just opens up the blood vessels, so you can't use it to confirm you've had angina, just because your symptoms lessen. Other symptoms, e.g. Indigestion will improve, too.

But the other thing I've noticed over the years is that the pattern of my angina is usually the same (chest, arm, neck, back).

Get to know your own angina pattern!

Marc68 in reply to Kristin1812

Hi Kristin. I've not had headaches but one time my heart was absolutely thumping after the spray, so much so I nearly phoned an ambulance. It felt like it was coming out of my chest! The cardiac nurse told me it wasn't unusual as your heart beats harder to try and raise the blood pressure.

I don't think the nurse meant to use GTN as a diagnostic tool, but more to use it if you're not sure just to be on the safe side. No-one has said to me that I have angina, stable or unstable, but I get discomfort occasionally so I've assumed that it is angina.. if it is, it's unstable as it's always when at rest.

Kristin1812Heart Star

Hi again, Marc. That's interesting about the heart beating harder to raise the BP.

There's so much to learn about all this!

Hi Kristen. Yes, there's lots going on and there are a lot of interactions that you might not think of. I've been reading a fair bit recently about breathing exercises and other ways to consciously lower your heart rate, including the mammalian dive reflex and coherent breathing/autonomic balance, but things like blood pressure can seemingly vary quite wildly depending on what you do, and how you do it.

anke123 in reply to Marc68

Hi all. Good reading all the comments. There is a lot going on in our bodies we do not know about and when it works well we do not think about it either.

And an update. I went to see the GP, got an appointment the same day, I am lucky at the medical center I use. I was in and out in 5 minutes. She took my BP, pulse ,listened to my heart and said I will refer you back to the cardiologist. Got a new GTN spray, was told to use it when this feeling comes and if it does not go away to phone 999. It does put the wind up me a bit when they say that. Went to exercise, but took it a bit easier this time.

Just wait and see now what happens next.

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