Health > Angina Fact Sheet
Angina can occur when the heart is not getting enough oxygen. This is usually because the blood supply to the heart is blocked or because the heart is being overworked and therefore needs more oxygen than usual. The heart can usually function normally at rest but not when physically exerted.
Of the many types of angina, stable, or classical, angina, triggered by exertion and receding with rest is the most common.
If you have stable angina, you should be able to predict what sort of activity will bring on an attack. Another type, unstable angina, is a more acute condition; it occurs unpredictably, even during rest, and should be interpreted as a warning sign of more serious heart trouble.
Alone, angina causes no permanent damage because the heart is only temporarily deprived of oxygen. But if your angina worsens, you should know that you are at a greater risk of heart attack. Be especially concerned if you develop unstable angina, and consult a doctor.
The main underlying cause of angina is coronary artery disease which describes the disease which the arteries become blocked by fatty deposits and blood is prevented from flowing through them. Angina can also result from other diseases that put exertion upon the heart unnecessarily, such as anaemia, aortic valve disease (see heart disease), heart arrhythmias, and hyperthyroidism (see thyroid problems).
Stable angina is sometimes called "exertional" angina because it is triggered by activities that make the heart beat rapidly such as physical activity, such as heavy lifting, sexual activity to eating a large meal.
Other triggers are emotional excitement cold weather, both of which stimulate the heart.
Certain risk factors for heart disease and coronary artery disease make the development of angina more likely.
Drugs may alleviate angina symptoms, but fundamental changes in diet and lifestyle are an important part of any angina treatment program. Before taking any drug, review its properties and your medical history carefully with your Doctor and Pharmacist.
Many drugs should not be mixed with other drugs or natural medicines, and you also need to be sure your Doctor knows of any pre-existing medical conditions you may have.
If you have angina, your doctor will undoubtedly mention the importance of an overall healthy lifestyle that includes proper diet, exercise, weight management, and no smoking.
Most angina patients also take prescribed medication. There are three main classes of angina drugs…
Physicians often use a combination of these to treat angina.
If drug therapy does not work Angioplasty or bypass surgery may be considered. Angioplasty, a catheter technique that widens blocked arteries, has become a relatively routine procedure. Bypass surgery, which diverts blood flow around clogged arteries, is reserved for very severe cases.
Always consult a doctor if you think you may have angina. The alternative therapies below may help relieve symptoms or prevent attacks, but they should be considered as complements to, rather than substitutes for, conventional medical care.
Consider a low fat diet to decrease the fatty deposits around your arteries. Eat less saturated fats and cholesterol.
You may wish to take a program of vitamins such as the B complex, E and Pantothenic Acid.