Angina Symptoms (cont.)
Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
In this Article
- What is angina?
- What causes angina?
- What are the different types of angina?
- What are the signs and symptoms of angina?
- How is angina diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for angina?
- What is the prognosis for angina?
- Can angina be prevented?
- Find a local Cardiologist in your town
What is the treatment for angina?
Treatment for angina depends upon the cause and may include behavior modification, exercise, medication, and surgery.
Should the cause be ASHD, medications are used to help minimize progression of artery narrowing and plaque buildup. Medications can be also be used to decrease the oxygen requirements of the heart and to allow the heart muscle to function more efficiently.
Aspirin may be recommended to make platelets less sticky to prevent clot formation and prevent heart attack.
Long-acting nitroglycerin medications (Imdur, Nitropaste) may be prescribed to dilate coronary arteries and increase blood flow to the heart muscle. As well, nitroglycerin may be used to abort an episode of angina. In this case it may be taken as a tablet or spray under the tongue.
The best treatment for angina is prevention, especially if the cause is ASHD. Lifelong control of blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes will help prevent the development of plaque buildup within arteries not only in the heart but also the brain and peripheral arteries as well. Smoking cessation is mandatory.
What is the prognosis for angina?
Prevention offers the best prognosis, but that said, should angina be due to atherosclerotic heart disease, heart function and symptoms may be controlled with lifelong attention to diet, exercise, and appropriately taking medication that is prescribed.
The purpose in preventing progression of ASHD is to decrease the risk of heart attack. Should one of the coronary arteries become completely blocked, that section of heart muscle may die and be replaced with scar tissue. This leads to a weakened heart that will affect quality of life. Chronically decreased blood flow to heart muscle may not cause a single heart attack but may affect heart function and lead to ischemic cardiomyopathy and again affect lifestyle.
Patients with angina who have had a heart attack and continue to smoke have up to a 50% risk of another heart attack and death.
Patient with Prinzmetal angina and syndrome X have an excellent prognosis with little risk of long term heart damage.
Next: Can angina be prevented?
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