Chest pain that lasts for more than 10 minutes could be serious. A person may be having a heart attack and need help until an ambulance arrives.

Quick help

  • Call 111 and ask for an ambulance if the chest pain lasts for more than 10 minutes.
  • Keep the person calm.
  • Check that the person is happy for you to touch them before you give first aid. If they are unconscious and you need to check for injuries or give lifesaving first aid, then don’t delay.
  • Sit the person down with their neck and back supported.
  • If the person collapses, start CPR.


 find out How to do CPR on adults  

What to look for

Chest pain: Pain in the middle of the chest, lasting more than 10 minutes. 

Neck pain: Pain spreading from the chest into their neck and face. 

Shoulder pain: Pain spreading from the chest into their shoulder or arms. 

Shortness of breath: The person finds it hard to breathe properly. 

Nausea or vomiting: The person feels sick or is being sick. They may feel cold and sweaty at the same time. 

Anxiety: They feel very worried, scared, and nervous.

Chest pain could mean the person is having a heart attack. Call 111 for an ambulance if the chest pain does not stop after taking their prescribed medication or lasts longer than 10 minutes. 


How you can help

If they are conscious 

  • Check the person is happy for you to touch them before giving first aid. 
  • Help the person sit comfortably with their back and head supported. 
  • Loosen any tight clothing around their waist and neck. 
  • Help them take any medicine they have for chest pain. 
  • Keep them calm.  
  • DO NOT give them any food or drink or cigarettes or vapes. 


If the person is unresponsive 

  • Call 111 for an ambulance straight away. 
  • Be ready to start CPR


DO NOT transport someone with chest pain to hospital in a car or by public transport, this could make the chest pain worse. Wait for an ambulance to arrive.



Heart attack

  • Chest pain that lasts more than 10 minutes could be a heart attack. 
  • It’s caused by a blockage in one of the heart’s main blood vessels. 
  • If the person does not get help quickly their heart could stop beating.  
  • If they become unresponsive and are not breathing normally start CPR.  
  • Call 111 for an ambulance urgently.  



  • Angina is caused by narrowed blood vessels. 
  • Most people with angina carry medicine that will relieve the pain. 
  • If they do not recover after taking their medicine, they could be having a heart attack.  
  • Call 111 for an ambulance if they do not recover within 10 minutes. 


See a doctor if you are concerned.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 if you are unsure.



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