Angina

  • Medical Author:
    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.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    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.

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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 may be 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.

Angioplasty and coronary artery bypass surgery

When patients continue to have angina despite maximally tolerated combinations of nitroglycerin medications, beta blockers, and calcium channel blockers, cardiac catheterization with coronary arteriography is indicated. Depending on the location and severity of the disease in the coronary arteries, patients can be referred for balloon angioplasty (percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty or PTCA with or without stents) or coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) to increase coronary artery blood flow.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/30/2015

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