Angina occurs when there is restricted blood flow to the heart, causing damage (ischemia). The condition can cause severe chest pain and is easy to confuse with a heart attack. There are three approaches used to address angina and reduce the worsening of damage.
One of the most important ways of managing angina long-term is to reduce risk factors associated with heart disease. Careful control over your diet is the first step. Your doctor will recommend a heart-healthy diet that includes a reduction in fatty or red meats and the incorporation of high-quality carbohydrates. High-quality carbs include slow-digesting carbohydrates like steel-cut oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and sweet potatoes.
Adding vegetables to every meal and relying on heart-healthy proteins, like beans, legumes, and fish are another important part of your diet. For people who need to lose weight, weight loss is often a byproduct of switching to a heart-healthy diet. Other risk reduction strategies include smoking cessation and stress reduction. Trying therapy and/or medications may work for both quitting smoking and managing stress.
Several types of medications may be used to help angina. For example, your doctor may recommend anti-coagulants to help make the blood less viscous and easier to pass through blood vessel in the heart. Aspirin is one type of anti-coagulant therapy that is used. A daily, small-dose aspirin, about 81mg, is the standard. If more powerful anti-coagulants are needed, you may be prescribed warfarin. Prescription anti-coagulants not only help prevent new clots from forming, but they may treat existing clots. Since anti-coagulants have their own risks, your doctor might refer you to a specialty clinic that monitors your treatment. At the clinic, you will have blood tests to monitor the amount of medication in your system and have your dose adjusted based on the results. The goal is to minimize clots while having enough clotting factor to prevent uncontrolled bleeding.
Your doctor might also recommend a cardiac rehabilitation program, especially if you had surgical procedures to improve angina. The rehabilitation program is typically a combination of education and exercise programs. Participating in an exercise program can be especially intimidating for people with heart problems. Aerobic exercises help strengthen your heart so it pumps more efficiently with each beat. Another advantage is your lungs better use oxygen. The exercise program will be based on the current condition of your heart and any physical limitations. The rehab team might recommend simply walking on the treadmill for 15 minutes each day until you are capable of doing longer or more intense workouts.
Although angina is a serious condition, it can be successfully managed with a combination of angina treatment approaches. Sticking with your prescribed regimen will strengthen your heart and reduce your future risk of a cardiac event.Share