Managing angina… How to avoid an attack and stay well

Angina is a pain that comes from the heart, caused by narrowing in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This narrowing is mainly due to the build up of fats (cholesterol) which, over time, can eventually restrict blood flow to the heart.

The most common symptom is a pain or tightness that you feel across the front of your chest, usually over the left side. But you can also just feel the pain in your arms, jaw or neck. The pain is often brought on by:

  • Physical exercise
  • Stress
  • Extreme cold
  • A heavy meal

Once these trigger factors stop, the pain tends to fade away quickly, usually within 10-15 minutes.

Actively reducing attacks and pain

The ultimate goal when you’re managing angina is to reduce the frequency and pain of attacks. It’s also extremely important to limit any further cholesterol depositing to the walls of your arteries, reducing your chances of not only having an angina attack, but also a heart attack or a stroke.

When you experience the pain of angina, sit down and take your Glyceryl Trinitrate (GTN) tablets or use your GTN spray - the pain should ease within a few minutes. If after three doses in 15 minutes you still have the pain, ring 999.

Smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels are all risk factors that can make your angina worse, so click on the links for more information and talk to the pharmacy team about our Stop Smoking Service. If necessary, your doctor may also prescribe blood pressure tablets and cholesterol lowering medicines to help you gain more effective control of your angina.

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