Antiangina drugs

Antiangina drugs are medicines that relieve the symptoms of angina pectoris (severe chest pain). The dull, tight chest pain of angina occurs when the heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen. By relaxing blood vessels, antianginadrugs reduce the heart's work load and increase the amount of oxygen-rich blood that reaches the heart. These drugs come in different forms, and are usedin three main ways.

Taken regularly over a long period, some antiangina medicines reduce the number of angina attacks. Others are taken just before some activity that usuallybrings on an attack, such as climbing stairs, to prevent attacks. The thirdtype is taken when an attack begins to relieve the pain and pressure. Not every type of antiangina drug can be used in every way. Some work too slowly toprevent attacks that are about to begin or to relieve attacks that have already started.

Antiangina drugs, also known as nitrates, come in many different forms: tablets and capsules that are swallowed; tablets that are held under the tongue, inside the lip, or in the cheek until they dissolve; stick-on patches; ointment; and in-the-mouth sprays. Commonly used antiangina drugs include isosorbidedinitrate (Isordil, Sorbitrate, and other brands) and nitroglycerin (Nitro-Bid, Nitro-Dur, Nitrolingual Spray, Nitrostat Tablets, Transderm-Nitro, and other brands).

These medicines are available only with a physician's prescription. The recommended dosage depends on the type and form of antiangina drug and may be different for different patients. Changes in medication and doses should only bedone with physician approval.

These medicines make some people feel lightheaded, dizzy, or faint when theyget up after sitting or lying down. Antiangina drugs may also cause dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting in hot weather or when people stand for a longtime or exercise. Drinking alcohol while taking antiangina drugs may cause the same problems.

Other side effects may occur. Anyone who has unusual symptoms after taking anantiangina drug should get in touch with his or her physician. Antiangina drugs may interact with other medicines. This may increase the risk of side effects or change the effects of one or both drugs. Anyone who takes antianginadrugs should let the physician know all other medicines he or she is taking.

If the person is taking the form of nitroglycerin that is placed under the tongue and symptoms are not relieved within three doses taken about 5 minutes apart, the person should go to the hospital emergency room as soon as possible. A heart attack may be in progress.

Some people develop tolerance to antiangina drugs over time. That is, the drug no longer produces the desired effects. Anyone who seems to be developing atolerance to this medicine should check with his or her physician.

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