Your doctor says your chest pain (angina) is caused by blockages in your heart arteries and that you need to get those blockages taken care of. What are your options?
First, it's important to determine what type of angina you have. Different types of angina may need different treatments. Common types of angina are chronic stable angina — a type of angina that occurs when your heart is working hard — and unstable angina, which is new chest pain or chest pain that is getting worse.
Other types of angina include variant angina — a rare type of angina caused by a spasm in the coronary arteries — and microvascular angina, which can be a symptom of disease in the small coronary artery blood vessels.
Unstable angina is a serious situation and requires emergency treatment. Treatment for unstable angina involves hospitalization with medications to stabilize your condition. Some people with unstable angina may require a procedure called angioplasty (also known as percutaneous coronary intervention), usually combined with the placement of a small metal tube called a stent. In some cases of unstable angina, heart surgery (coronary bypass surgery) may be needed.
Generally, if you have mild stable angina that is controlled by medications, you may not need further treatments. If you're experiencing symptoms of chronic stable angina even after taking medications and making lifestyle changes, or if you're at higher risk of serious heart disease, your doctor may recommend angioplasty or coronary bypass surgery.
Making a decision on how to treat your angina can be difficult, but knowing the benefits and risks of stents and medications may help you decide.