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Angina is pain, pressure, or tightness that is usually felt in your chest. Pain or discomfort may be felt in your arms, jaw, neck, back, or shoulders. You may also have shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, fatigue, sweating, or dizziness. Angina is caused by decreased blood flow and oxygen to your heart. If left untreated, angina may get worse, increase your risk of a heart attack, or become life-threatening.


Call 911 if:

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than 5 minutes or returns
    • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
    • Trouble breathing
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat, especially with chest pain or trouble breathing
  • You have chest pain that does not go away after you take medicine as directed.
  • You lose feeling in your face, arms, or legs, or you suddenly feel weak.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your angina is happening more frequently, lasting longer, or causing worse pain.
  • You have blood in your urine or bowel movements, or you vomit blood.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You are dizzy or nauseated after you take your medicine.
  • You have trouble breathing at rest.
  • You have new or worse swelling in your feet or ankles.
  • You are bleeding from your gums or nose.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Aspirin may help prevent blood clots by thinning your blood. Aspirin and other blood thinners may increase your risk of bleeding, including stomach bleeding.
  • Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Examples of blood thinners include heparin and warfarin. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. The following are general safety guidelines to follow while you are taking a blood thinner:
    • Watch for bleeding and bruising while you take blood thinners. Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.
    • Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take anticoagulants. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
    • Do not start or stop any medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.
    • Tell your healthcare provider right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.
    • Warfarin is a blood thinner that you may need to take. The following are things you should be aware of if you take warfarin.
      • Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and certain other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you are taking warfarin.
      • You will need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up visits when you are on warfarin. You will need regular blood tests. These tests are used to decide how much medicine you need.
  • Nitrates , such as nitroglycerin, open the arteries to your heart so the heart gets more oxygen.
  • Beta-blockers cause your heart to beat more slowly and decrease blood pressure. This decreases the amount of oxygen the heart needs. Beta-blockers also help open up the blood vessels in the heart.
  • Calcium channel blockers help relax the muscles in the arteries of the heart, increasing blood flow to the heart.
  • Statins are used to lower cholesterol levels. This prevents more narrowing of the blood vessels in your heart.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Keep a record or a calendar with details about your chest pain. Every time you have pain or symptoms, record what the pain is like, how long it lasts, and how severe it is. Also record what brings on the pain, and what makes it go away. Bring this with you every time you see your healthcare provider. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Cardiac rehabilitation:

Your healthcare provider may recommend that you attend cardiac rehabilitation (rehab). This is a program run by specialists who will help you safely strengthen your heart and prevent more heart disease. The plan includes exercise, relaxation, stress management, and heart-healthy nutrition. Healthcare providers will also check to make sure any medicines you are taking are working. The plan may also include instructions for when you can drive, return to work, and do other normal daily activities.

Manage angina:

  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause heart and lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. When you weigh more than is healthy for you, your heart must work harder. You are at higher risk for serious health problems. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet. Do not eat foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. You may also be told to limit the amount of salt you eat.
  • Avoid activities that trigger an angina attack. Pay attention to your symptoms and find out what seems to make your angina worse.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.