The options for treating angina include lifestyle changes, medications, and procedures such as coronary angioplasty with stent placement or coronary artery bypass surgery.
You and your doctor should agree on a plan for treating your angina on a daily basis. This should include:
- What medicines you should be taking to prevent angina
- What activities are okay for you to do, and which ones are not
- What medicines you should take when you have angina
- What are the signs that your angina is getting worse
- When you should call the doctor or 911
You may be asked to take one or more medicines to treat blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol levels. Follow your doctor's directions closely to help prevent your angina from getting worse.
Nitroglycerin pills or spray may be used to stop chest pain.
Taking aspirin and clopidogrel (Plavix) or prasugrel (Effient) helps prevent blood clots from forming in your arteries, and reduces your risk of having a heart attack. Ask your doctor whether you should be taking these medications.
Your doctor may give you one or more medicines to help prevent you from having angina.
- ACE inhibitors to lower blood pressure and protect your heart
- Beta-blockers to lower heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen use by the heart
- Calcium channel blockers to relax arteries, lower blood pressure, and reduce strain on the heart
- Nitrates to help prevent angina
- Ranolazine (Ranexa) to treat chronic angina
NEVER STOP TAKING ANY OF THESE DRUGS ON YOUR OWN. Always talk to your doctor first. Stopping these drugs suddenly can make your angina worse or cause a heart attack. This is especially true of anti-clotting drugs (aspirin, clopidogrel, and prasugrel).
Your doctor may recommend a cardiac rehabilitation program to help improve your heart's fitness.
Some people will be treated with medicines and will not need surgery to treat a blockage or narrowing. Others will need a procedure to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels that supply blood to the heart.
- Angioplasty and stent placement (also called percutaneous coronary intervention)
- Blockages that cannot be treated with angioplasty may need a heart bypass