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Angina (Chest Pain)

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Questions for Your Doctor

  • Do I need any more tests?
  • What type of angina do I have?
  • Do I have heart damage?
  • What treatment do you recommend?
  • How will it make me feel?
  • What can I do to try to prevent a heart attack?
  • Are there activities I shouldn't do?
  • Will changing my diet help?

Treatment

Your treatment depends on how much damage there is to your heart. For people with mild angina, medicine along with lifestyle changes can often help blood flow better and control symptoms.

Your doctor might prescribe medicines to:

  • Widen blood vessels, allowing more blood to flow to the heart
  • Slow the heart down so it doesn't have to work as hard
  • Relax blood vessels to let more blood flow to the heart
  • Prevent blood clots from forming

If medicines aren't enough to treat your angina, you may need to have blocked arteries opened with a medical procedure or surgery. This could be:

  • Angioplasty/stenting. During this procedure, the doctor threads a tiny tube with a balloon inside through a blood vessel and up to your heart. Then he inserts and inflates the balloon inside the narrowed artery to widen it and restore blood flow. A mesh tube called a stent may be left inside the artery to help keep it open. The procedure usually takes less than 2 hours. You will most likely stay overnight at the hospital.
  • Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), or bypass surgery. The surgeon takes healthy arteries or veins from another part of your body and uses them to bypass the blocked or narrowed blood vessels. You can expect to stay in the hospital about a week after this procedure. You'll be in the intensive care unit for a day or two while nurses and doctors keep a close eye on your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels. You'll then move to a regular room to recover.

Taking Care of Yourself

You can continue to lead an active life, but it's important that you listen to your body. If you feel pain, stop what you are doing and rest. Know what triggers your angina, like stress or intense exercise. And try to avoid things that tend to set it off. For example, if large meals cause problems, eat smaller ones and eat more often.

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