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is pain, pressure, or tightness that is usually felt in your chest. It is caused by decreased blood flow and oxygen to your heart. Angina is usually caused by atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Chest pain may come on when you are stressed or do physical activities, such as walking or exercising. If left untreated, angina may get worse, increase your risk for a heart attack, or become life-threatening.
Common symptoms include the following:
- Pressure, tightness, or pain in your neck, jaw, shoulder, or back
- Pain or numbness in either arm
- Discomfort that feels like heartburn
- Shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, or lightheadedness
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.
Seek care immediately if:
- Your angina is happening more frequently, lasting longer, or causing worse pain.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You are dizzy or nauseated after you take your medicine.
- You have shortness of breath at rest.
- You have new or worse swelling in your feet or ankles.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Treatment for angina
may include any of the following. Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him 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.
- Antiplatelets , such as aspirin, help prevent blood clots. Take your antiplatelet medicine exactly as directed. These medicines make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise. If you are told to take aspirin, do not take acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead.
- Blood thinners keep clots from forming in your blood. Clots may cause heart attacks, strokes, or death. This medicine makes it more likely for you to bleed or bruise.
- Other medicines may be given to open the arteries to your heart, slow your heartbeat, or decrease your blood pressure or cholesterol.
- Do not take certain medicines without asking your healthcare provider first. These include NSAIDs, herbal or vitamin supplements, or hormones (estrogen or progestin).
- Angioplasty and stenting help open the coronary arteries and allow blood to flow to the heart. Ask for more information about these procedures.
- Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) , or open heart surgery, can improve blood flow to the heart. This will help decrease your chest pain and prevent a heart attack.
- 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 if you are overweight. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
- Ask about activity. Your healthcare provider will tell you which activities to limit or avoid. Ask about the best exercise plan for you.
- Eat heart-healthy foods. Include fresh fruits and vegetables in your meal plan. Choose low-fat foods, such as skim or 1% fat milk, low-fat cheese and yogurt, fish, chicken (without skin), and lean meats. Eat two 4-ounce servings of fish high in omega-3 fats each week, such as salmon, fresh tuna, and herring. Do not eat foods that are high in sodium, such as canned foods, potato chips, salty snacks, and cold cuts. Put less table salt on your food.
- Avoid activities that cause angina. Pay attention to your symptoms and find out what seems to make your angina worse.
- Ask if you should have a flu vaccine. The flu vaccine will decrease your risk for an infection. An infection can put more stress on your heart and worsen your angina.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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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.