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          Angina pectoris


If the patient has never had these symptoms, can call the healthcare provider, especially if the patient is uncertain of the symptoms or what action to should take.

  • Do not delay calling a doctor. Do not "wait it out." To wait is to risk your life.
  • Emergency personnel are trained to recognize angina and to treat it rapidly and safely.

If the patient has had angina before, they may not need to seek medical care if the symptoms are the same as they always are.

  • If the patient has already been evaluated by a healthcare provider and received advice about how to react to these symptoms, follow that advice.
  • This usually involves rest, removing the stressor, and taking sublingual nitroglycerin.

If the patient has had angina before, go to the nearest hospital emergency department if any of the following situations occur:

  • If the usual pattern of angina symptoms changes in any way
  • If the symptoms are different than usual or more severe
  • If the symptoms occur at rest or with less activity than usual
  • If the symptoms do not get better with rest or sublingual nitroglycerin
  • If the patient is not certain about what to do

Any of these situations may be a medical emergency and requires a visit to a hospital emergency department.

  • Don't delay or try to "wait it out."
  • Do not drive yourself to the hospital.
  • Call for emergency medical transport

If a person believes they have risk factors for angina, but no symptoms, they should call a healthcare provider to arrange for an evaluation in the office. Don't wait for symptoms to occur.


Self-Care at Home

Stop doing whatever it is that causes the symptoms and call 911. Immediate help and intervention is the best chance for survival if someone is having a heart attack  or other serious problem.

  • Lie down in a comfortable position with the head up.
  • Chew a regular adult aspirin or its equivalent (as long as the patient is not allergic to aspirin). Chewing more than one will not do any good and may cause unwanted side effects.

If the patient has had angina before and been evaluated by a healthcare provider, follow his or her recommendations.

  • This may mean rest and the immediate use of sublingual nitroglycerin.
  • It may include a visit to the hospital emergency department.

If a patient has stable angina, they will need to visit their healthcare provider on a regular basis to monitor angina episodes and assess if risk factors are being reduced.

The patient's healthcare provider will probably test their heart function periodically and assess the underlying disease. These tests will probably include the following:

  • ECG
  • Exercise tolerance tests
  • Thallium stress test
  • Repeat cardiac catheterization to see if the dilated artery or stent is still open and/or a surgical bypass graft is still open or closed. This is the key downside of both angioplasty and surgery: arteries, stents, and grafts restenose (occlude) with the same disease process of atherosclerosis. None of these procedures are a permanent cure. The patient has to be very compulsive in correcting potential risk factors, or they will return with the same blockages they started with.


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