There are several diagnostic procedures that can be done to diagnose angina. Common tests include an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) which tests the electrical activity of the heart via electrodes places on the arms, legs and chests. A stress test may be conducted to see how your heart may respond under physical exertion. There is also cardiac catheterization (Coronary angiogram) which is a more invasive procedure when a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel to inject contrasting dye. Then an x-ray is done of the heart valves o see how well the heart may be functioning and if there are any blockages causing the episodes of angina.
Once angina is diagnosed then doctors may work to resolve the problems that are causing the angina. Treatment options may be as simple as more rest is need and limit the amount of physically exerting activities by taking regular breaks. Medications may be taken to treat angina such as nitroglycerin, beta blockers, or calcium channel blockers. Or in the case of more serious conditions surgery may be required. Typical surgeries for the treatment of angina are angioplasty and coronary artery bypass grafts. Nitroglycerine tables or sprats are often times placed under the tongue to relieve sudden angina symptoms. Nitroglycerin reduces the heart’s demand for oxygen and calms heart spasms by redistributing artery blood to areas that are the most deprives. Nitroglycerin tablets a fast acting but should not exceed more than a few doses. Longer acting forms of nitroglycerine can be in the patch or ointment form and are useful for those with chronic angina. Some side effects of nitroglycerin include headaches as a result of lower blood pressure.
Beta blockers inhibit the effects of adrenaline on the heart, therefore causing a decrease in the heart rate and lowering blood pressure, thus resulting in the heart to require less oxygen to perform. Common side effects of beta blockers include higher cholesterol levels, shortness of breath, impotence, fatigue, and depression. Calcium channel blockers relieve coronary artery spasms and lower the blood pressure significantly to reduce the force needed for the heart to pump blood properly. Side effects of calcium channel blockers include leg edema, and low blood pressure.
Other treatments for angina include healthy lifestyle changes such as diets low in saturated fats, high in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Over the counter medicines such as aspirin can be taken to reduce clotting of the blood thus allowing it to flow more easily through the heart’s arteries.