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Angina (chest pain)

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How is angina treated?

The angina treatment you receive depends on the severity of the underlying problem, namely the amount of damage to the heart. For most people with mild angina, a combination of drugs and lifestyle changes can control the symptoms. Lifestyle changes include: eating a heart-healthy diet, lowering cholesterol, getting regular exercise, stopping smoking, and controlling diabetes and high blood pressure.

Some drugs used to treat angina work by either increasing the amount of oxygen delivered to the heart muscle or reducing the heart's need for oxygen. These medicines include:

Other angina drugs work to prevent the formation of blood clots, which can further block blood flow to the heart muscle. These medicines include:

For people with more severe or worsening angina, your doctor may recommend treatment to open blocked arteries. These include:

  • Angioplasty
  • Stenting
  • Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery
  • External counterpulsation (EECP)

What should I do if I have angina?

With any type of angina, stop what you are doing and rest.

If you have been prescribed a medication called glyceryl trinitrate (GTN/nitroglycerin) to treat your angina, take one or two sprays under the tongue. If using the tablet form, place it under your tongue.

If you still have angina after resting and taking doses of glyceryl trinitrate as directed by your doctor, call 999 or get someone to take you to the nearest accident and emergency department if this would be quicker.

If you think you are having a heart attack, do not delay. Call for emergency help right away. Do not drive yourself to the hospital. Consider taking an aspirin. Prompt treatment of a heart attack is very important to lessen the amount of damage to your heart.

If you have angina, carry your glyceryl trinitrate with you at all times; you never know when you will need it.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on April 12, 2016

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