Your chances of your angina – the most common group of symptoms in coronary artery disease – worsening or a heart attack or stroke occurring will be minimised if you keep your risk factors at as low a level as possible. This means that regardless of whether you’ve had an artery-opening procedure, you must maintain your medications and lifestyle improvements.
You should consult your doctor immediately if your angina symptoms become more severe or more frequent as you may require additional or different medication or further tests. When you are first diagnosed you might find it helpful to keep a diary of your symptoms to help you recognize what activities bring them on, how frequently you get symptoms and how severe the pain is. Once you’re confident with this information you will be more able to detect any worsening of your symptoms so that you can seek appropriate medical attention.
Minimising your risk factors can have a dramatic effect in preventing further coronary artery disease as well as increasing your quality of life.
The symptoms of angina and a heart attack are similar because both are caused by the heart not receiving sufficient blood and oxygen and many people with angina are anxious about knowing when they should be concerned.
It’s wrong to think of angina as just a problem of a single narrowed artery. Even if X-rays don’t show it, you almost certainly have other diseased coronary arteries which can block suddenly or over a short period of time causing heart muscle damage – a heart attack. They key is being aware of changes to your symptoms or new symptoms. When you have stable angina, your symptoms are usually predictable – it’s when things change that you should be alerted.
Once you have been diagnosed with coronary artery disease it’s important that your condition is adequately monitored to minimise the risk of permanent damage to the heart. You should establish a good relationship with your GP who will manage your day-to-day care and medications, and with your pharmacist. You may also periodically see a cardiologist who will assess any changes to your level of angina.
Having good long term monitoring will improve your health outcome and minimise the anxiety associated with coronary artery disease and reduce symptoms, in particular chest pain.
Coronary artery disease doesn’t go away, so it’s treated according to how bad the symptoms are and how serious the blockages are. This means that you’ll require a long-term care plan to minimize symptoms and prevent or delay deterioration, and develop a good relationship with your GP who will have oversight of your day-to-day care, including monitoring your condition and prescribing medications.
This information has been developed and reviewed for Bupa by health professionals. To the best of their knowledge it is current and based on reputable sources of medical research. It should be used as a guide only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical or other health professional advice.
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Last published 31 October 2011