Treatment Options For Angina Pectoris

Angina pectoris is a stable form of chest pain caused by heart disease. During episodes of angina pectoris, the heart does not receive as much blood as it needs. Episodes, most of which last no longer than five minutes, may be triggered by emotional stress, physical exercise, eating a heavy meal, smoking, and being exposed to very hot or cold temperatures. Symptoms include pressure or pain in the center of the chest that may radiate to the back, jaw, neck, shoulder, and arm. Episodes of stable angina typically feel the same, and some patients may describe them as similar to the sensations of having indigestion or gas. This condition improves with rest and medication. The treatments outlined below are often recommended for patients with angina pectoris.

Rest To Relieve Discomfort


Since this form of angina is often triggered by exertion and stress, doctors recommend rest for patients to relieve discomfort. As soon as patients feel any discomfort, they should try to lie down as soon as possible and remove themselves from any stressful situations. Patients should ask their doctor about safe types of exercise for their heart and how long their workouts should be to avoid triggering angina pectoris. If possible, someone should stay with the patient while they rest. It may be helpful to keep a symptom diary with a list of angina episodes, including what the patient was doing just before an episode began and how long it lasted. If patients notice their chest pain is not relieved by resting, they should contact the doctor immediately and seek emergency medical care.

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Take Nitroglycerin


Nitroglycerin is an oral medication classified as a vasodilator that helps open blood vessels to improve blood flow and ease chest pain. Doctors typically recommend angina pectoris patients take nitroglycerin about ten minutes before they begin doing an activity that will likely trigger symptoms. For example, patients might choose to take nitroglycerin ten minutes before a bike ride or other physical activity such as a walk around the block or a yoga session. Patients can also consider using the medication before doing heavy lifting or household chores like vacuuming. It can also be beneficial in preventing chest pain that may occur during stressful situations that may cause sadness or anger. Patients can take nitroglycerin as a tablet or as a mouth spray. The medication must be used carefully due to the risk of side effects. While on nitroglycerin, patients should not consume any alcohol. Potential side effects of nitroglycerin include headaches and a sensation of burning on the tongue immediately after use. Patients may also experience dizziness, lightheadedness, skin rash, a fast pulse, sudden skin redness and warmth, and nausea.

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Complete Evaluation By A Doctor


Since many conditions can cause chest pain, patients should have a complete evaluation by a doctor to obtain a correct diagnosis. Ideally, a cardiologist should evaluate patients, beginning with a health history. The cardiologist will ask the patient about any personal history of high blood pressure, previous heart attacks, cardiac surgeries, or other health problems. Patients will also be asked about their family history of cardiac events, and it is particularly helpful if patients can find out how old family members were when they experienced heart health issues. Next, the cardiologist will begin a physical examination of the patient. Blood pressure measurements will be checked in both arms, and the doctor will feel the patient's pulse at several locations. The cardiologist will listen to the patient's heartbeat with a stethoscope to identify any abnormal sounds. At a minimum, patients will also be given an electrocardiogram test, and an echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart) may also be completed. Patients may also undergo a chest x-ray, and stress tests, cardiac CT scans, and coronary angiograms. Blood tests may be needed to help the cardiologist confirm a diagnosis of angina pectoris and rule out other conditions.

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Consume A Healthy And Balanced Diet


Patients who have angina pectoris may be able to reduce their symptoms and angina episodes if they consume a healthy and balanced diet. Most cardiologists recommend patients with heart issues try to follow either the Mediterranean diet or DASH diet. Some patients have also found a vegan diet is beneficial. These diets all base meals around fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Fish, nuts, seeds, and red wine are included in limited quantities in the first two. In particular, angina patients should try to cook meals at home instead of choosing fast food or eating out. Saturated fats should be limited, and patients should completely avoid trans fats. Fried foods such as french fries and fried chicken can be replaced with healthier baked versions. Patients who need advice about dietary options may wish to consider consulting a nutritionist who is familiar with the needs of cardiac patients.

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Get Regular Exercise

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While exercise sessions can trigger angina, it is important for patients with the condition to continue exercising regularly for their overall health. Regular exercise can help angina pectoris patients have greater mobility and a higher quality of life. Before beginning an exercise regimen, patients should have a physical examination to ensure their heart is healthy enough to tolerate activity. Patients may wish to attend special exercise classes for individuals with cardiac conditions. Doctors can recommend safe levels of exercise intensity. Patients may also consider having a personal trainer supervise them during their exercise sessions. Gentle exercises such as restorative yoga, tai chi, walking, and swimming can all benefit angina pectoris patients. While exercising, patients should perform each movement slowly and carefully, and they may need to take a break between repetitions. Exercise should be stopped immediately if patients experience any discomfort or pain.


    HealthPrep Staff