Angina & Coronary Heart Disease

Angina is caused atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries which supply blood to the heart.  This build up of fatty plaques narrows the arteries resulting in less nutrients and oxygen supply to the heart.  A complete interruption of blood supply due to complete blockage results in a heart attack while moderate to severe narrowing will cause symptoms of angina.

Image Credit HFNZ

Symptoms of angina

  • Pain or discomfort on the chest
  • Heaviness, tightness or dull ache on the chest
  • May spread to your left arm, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Cold sweats
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Easily tired

Click to view BHF video on Angina

Risk factors for Heart Attack

Types of Angina

  • Stable angina is often triggered by exercise, after a large meal, stress or cold weather but the symptoms improve after some rest or medication
  • Unstable angina is unpredictable, not relieved by rest and is at high risk of progressing to a heart attack


Angina increases your chances of a heart attack and as such, you MUST see a cardiologist to have an assessment so that he/she can help you get a treatment plan.  The tests may include;

  • Blood tests to look for cholesterol, glucose, markers of heart muscle damage (such as Troponin and Creatine Kinase)
  • Blood pressure
  • Resting heart ECG
  • Stress test ECG
  • Ultrasound echocardiogram
  • Cardiac CT / Angiogram
  • Coronary angiogram


Angioplasty (usually accompanied with insertions of one or several stents) is the treatment of choice to enlarge the narrowing or blockage in your coronary arteries to improve the blood flow to your heart.  It is important that you change and adopt a new healthier lifestyle so that the newly treated coronary arteries do NOT get blocked again in future.  Your doctor may recommend you a Cardiac Rehabilitation program which will involve a dietician, physiotherapist or lifestyle coach.

Medications your doctor may prescribe for your heart condition

  • Nitrates (such as GTN or nitroglycerin) dilate your coronary arteries so that more oxygen and nutrients can reach your heart muscles
  • Calcium Channel blockers relax and widen your coronary arteries so that more oxygen and nutrients can reach your heart muscles as well as reducing your blood pressure
  • Beta-blockers low the heart down to reduce the the oxygen requirement from your heart
  • Blood thinning medications (such as aspirin, Clopidogrel (Plavix), Prasugrel (Effient), Ticagrelor (Brilinta)) help to prevent blood clots in your arteries
  • Statins to lower your cholesterol (if you have high cholesterol levels)
  • Blood pressure medications to lower your blood pressure (if you have hypertension)

Prevention Do’s and Don’t’s

DO check your blood pressure and cholesterol 2-3 times a year

DO eat a healthy diet

DO regular exercises

DO consider taking medication to reduce your risk of heart disease

DO NOT smoke anymore

DO NOT perform sudden strenuous exercises without warming up or getting training

DO NOT ignore any unusual signs or chest discomfort or pain

See your doctor to have regular heart and blood tests to monitor your heart function every 3-12 months

Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. 

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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