Ranolazine (Ranexa) is a drug that may be added to treatment for stable angina if other anti-anginal drugs are not working well enough or if you are intolerant of other drugs. The exact way in which this drug works is not known, but it is thought to improve relaxation of the heart muscle.

You may be given a combination of drugs depending on the cause of your angina and whether you have additional medical problems. For very severe angina, surgery or angioplasty may be recommended. Angioplasty is a procedure used to widen arteries that have become narrowed by atherosclerosis. A “balloon catheter” is inserted through the skin into the affected blood vessel; the balloon is then inflated, flattening the fatty deposit that is narrowing the artery against the artery wall. This procedure is used in people who have short lengths of narrowed arteries. If angina cannot be relieved by medicines or angioplasty or if the arteries are severely narrowed, then a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) may be necessary. In this procedure, a vein from elsewhere in the body, usually from one of your legs, is grafted into the heart to bypass the blocked or narrowed arteries.

Self-help measures:

  • If you smoke, try to stop. This is very important because smoking is a major cause of coronary artery narrowing and the most important risk factor for angina.
  • Reduce your fat intake to reduce cholesterol levels. Changes in your diet can also lessen the risk of your arteries becoming narrowed due to build-up of fatty deposits.
  • Reduce the amount of salt in your diet to help lower your blood pressure, which in turn reduces the workload of the heart.
  • Begin an exercise program to strengthen your heart and enable it to deal with oxygen more efficiently. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise regimen.
  • Keep your weight at a healthy level – if you are overweight, your heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body.

Further information:
American Heart Association: www.americanheart.org

Last Reviewed: May 2013