Heart disease

Your heart pumps blood around your body through your arteries and veins. The blood contains oxygen and nutrients that keep your body working. When there’s something wrong with your heart or blood vessels, it’s known as heart (cardiovascular) disease.

Logo: Heart Foundation The Heart Foundation website has detailed information on:

For a full risk assessment, ask your doctor or practice nurse for a heart and diabetes check.

Heart attack

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a section of the heart muscle becomes blocked. If the blood flow is not restored quickly, the section of the heart muscle dies.

Heart attack symptoms

Pain in the centre of your chest is the most common symptom of a heart attack.

If you’re having a heart attack, you may feel pain in your:

  • chest (can be mild to severe)
  • jaw
  • neck
  • shoulder.

You may also get other symptoms, such as:

  • sweating
  • feeling dizzy or faint
  • vomiting
  • being short of breath.

You may not feel any pain.

If you think you or someone else may be having a heart attack, call 111 straight away. Early treatment can save your life.


Angina occurs when your heart muscle does not get as much blood and oxygen as it needs. It is a sign of heart disease – however, it can be treated.

Angina symptoms

Angina usually occurs when you’re exercising.

Symptoms include:

  • tightness or pain in your chest that may come and go
  • sudden difficulty breathing
  • pain between your shoulder blades
  • chest pain spreading to your jaw, teeth or earlobes
  • heaviness, tingling or aching in your shoulder or arm (usually on the left side).

If you’ve had any of these symptoms, talk to your GP or nurse.

The Ministry of Health is grateful to The Heart Foundation for permission to link to its websites.

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