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Guide by Condition: Angina

Posted by Mike Phipps on December 10, 2018

Guide by Condition: Angina


A common condition which can be managed well with treatment and making recommended lifestyle changes. If you have been diagnosed with Angina, it is possible to help alleviate and control symptoms with the help of medication and mobility aids.

What is Angina?

Angina is a pain or discomfort felt in the chest, usually caused by coronary heart disease. Often feels like a tightness in the chest which can spread to the arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach. People describe it as a severe tightness while others say it’s more of a dull ache, with shortness of breath too. It happens when the arteries that supply your heart muscle with blood and oxygen become restricted. It is often brought on by emotional upset, physical activity, cold weather or after meals but symptoms usually subside after a few minutes.

Each year about 20,000 people in the UK develop angina for the first time. It is more common in people over the age of 50 years and in men more than in women. It also sometimes occurs in younger people.


Other causes of Angina -

  • Variant angina - which happens when a coronary artery supplying blood and oxygen to your heart goes into spasm.
  • Microvascular angina - mostly occurs when you are exerting yourself during physical activity or emotional upset. With microvascular angina, the coronary arteries will appear normal when investigate and will be no evidence of the fatty build-up in the arteries that usually causes angina.

Your GP may diagnose angina from the symptoms you describe or they may send you for other health checks and tests such as an ECG, coronary angiogram or heart scan.

What is the treatment for Angina?

Medication is normally prescribed to help alleviate and control symptoms. Doctors may also suggest medication to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke, meaning several different medications can be prescribed either fast-acting or long-term treatment. With several medications being taken daily for anyone who has angina, keeping daily doses organised is important and can be helped with useful medication aids and pill dispensers. If medication isn’t suitable or doesn’t help, surgery may be suggested in order to improve the blood flow to the heart muscles.

Other healthy lifestyle changes can also include:

  • Stopping smoking
  • Cutting down on alcohol
  • Keeping a balanced diet
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Gentle regular exercise (with the right aids)

More information

BHF Angina Booklet -

Patient Info -