Thumbnail image of: Circulatory System: Illustration
Thumbnail image of: Heart, External View: Illustration
Thumbnail image of: Heart, Interior View: Illustration

Chest Pain (Angina) Discharge Information

What is chest pain?

Chest pain caused by a problem with your heart is called angina pectoris or angina. Angina is often described as a feeling of tightness, squeezing, or pain in the chest. It happens when the heart does not get enough oxygen-rich blood. Angina may be caused by any condition that affects the blood flow to your heart, such as coronary artery disease, abnormal heart valves, abnormal heart rhythms, anemia, or uncontrolled blood pressure.

How can I take care of myself when I go home?

How long it takes to get better depends on the cause of your chest pain, your treatment, how well you recover, your overall health, and any complications you may have. To take care of yourself when you go home, you will need to learn how much activity you can do without making your heart work too hard. The actions you take can help keep your angina from getting worse.

Management

  • Your provider will give you a list of your medicines when you leave the hospital.
    • Know your medicines. Know what they look like, how much you should take each time, how often you should take them, and why you take each one.
    • Take your medicines exactly as your provider tells you to.
    • Carry a list of your medicines in your wallet or purse. Include any nonprescription medicines and supplements on the list.
    • Talk to your provider before you use any other medicines, including nonprescription medicines.
  • Your provider may prescribe medicine to:
    • Relax and widen blood vessels and allow blood to flow through them easier
    • Help prevent blood clots
    • Reduce blood pressure, slow the heart rate, and reduce the workload of the heart
    • Control cholesterol levels

Appointments

  • Follow your provider’s instructions for follow-up appointments.
  • Keep appointments for any routine testing you may need. For example, if you now take medicine to prevent blood clots, you may need to have regular blood tests.
  • Talk with your provider about any questions or fears you have.

Diet, Exercise, and Other Lifestyle Changes

  • Follow the treatment plan your healthcare provider prescribes.
  • Get plenty of rest while you’re recovering. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Drink enough fluids to keep your urine light yellow in color, unless you are told to limit fluids.
  • You will probably need to make changes in some of the foods you eat. Ask your provider about the benefits of talking to a dietician to learn what you need in a healthy diet. If your angina was caused by plaque build-up in your heart arteries, you will need to eat a diet low in sodium, low in cholesterol and high in fiber.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if there are any foods or medicines you should avoid.
  • Lose weight if you need to and keep a healthy weight.
  • Exercise as your provider recommends.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking can worsen poor blood circulation.
  • Find ways to make your life less stressful.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell an attack of angina from a true heart attack. Call emergency medical services or 911 if you have new or worsening symptoms of a heart attack. The most common symptoms include:

  • Chest pain or pressure, squeezing, or fullness in the center of your chest that lasts more than few minutes, or goes away and comes back (may feel like indigestion or heartburn)
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders, or in your back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Trouble breathing
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat for no known reason
  • If your provider has prescribed nitroglycerin for angina, pain that does not go away after taking your nitroglycerin as directed
  • Along with the previous symptoms, feeling very tired, faint, or sick to your stomach

If you have any of these symptoms, do not drive yourself.

Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:

  • Pain that is not well controlled with your medicine
  • Chest discomfort when lying down
  • Chest pain that gets worse or happens more often
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling like your heart is beating too fast, too slow, or skipping beats
  • Swelling in your legs, ankles, or feet
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Signs of infection around your surgical wound if you had surgery. These include:
    • The area around your wound is more red or painful
    • The wound area is very warm to touch
    • You have blood, pus, or other fluid coming from your wound area
    • You have a fever higher than 101.5° F (38.6° C)
    • You have chills or muscle aches

Ask your healthcare provider about any medicine, treatment, or information that you do not understand.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-07-30
Last reviewed: 2014-07-31
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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