Angina (Chest Pain)
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 small tube called a stent may be left inside the artery to help keep it open. The stent is usually made of metal and is permanent. It can also be made of a material that the body absorbs over time. Some stents have medicine that helps keep the artery from getting blocked again.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.
These lifestyle changes can help protect your heart:
Stop smoking. It can damage your blood vessels and increase your heart disease risk.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. If those are out of normal range, it can raise your chance for heart disease. Eat mainly fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meat, and fat-free or low-fat dairy. Limit salt, fat, and sugar.
- Use stress-relieving measures like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga to relax.
- Exercise most days of the week.
- See your doctor regularly.
If you have chest pain that is new or unusual for you, and you think you may be having a heart attack, call 911 right away. Don't wait. Quick treatment is very important. It can protect you from more damage.