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What Is the Connection between Aspirin and Angina?

Dan Harkins
Updated Feb 24, 2024
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Simple over-the-counter aspirin saves untold lives. Not only does it stem clotting to prevent heart attacks and strokes, but it also has proven effective for sufferers of angina — the dull long-lasting pain that is a common precursor to more serious episodes. Aspirin and angina are eternal enemies, but aspirin can have a marked effect if taken regularly.

In Latin, angina translates to "chest squeezing." It refers to the feeling that accompanies the heart when it is not receiving an adequate aortal flow of blood. This is most often the result of arteriosclerosis, or the internal buildup that clogs coronary arteries. Angina feels like a heavy pressure on the chest with an uncomfortably relentless squeeze or tenseness, and it often occurs during periods of stress or higher-than-normal physical activity.

Doctors do not advise patients to try to prevent strokes and heart attacks with just aspirin and recommend that aspirin and angina are not an effective combination compared to a prescribed nitroglycerin supplement with other types of medications and angina. Often both are taken — aspirin on a more long-term basis and nitroglyceride for the reactionary short-term help. The pain of angina can last up to 15 minutes at a time, and sometimes even nitroglyceride does not help. Aspirin, according to Web MD, also works fast to prevent clotting, though — sometimes as quickly as 15 minutes. Heart attack patients are advised to quickly chew a 325 mg aspirin so the clot that has clogged the heart does not grow any larger.

When a patient is suffering from what is called stable angina, the pain episodes are more predictable and can typically be alleviated with nitroglycerin. By contrast, unstable angina is harder to predict, and often the pain is not quelled by nitroglycerin. In either case, however, medical attention is needed at this point. Aspirin, and other drugs like calcium channel blockers and beta blockers that quell adrenaline, are more crucial in cases of unstable angina. Many doctors see the connection in aspirin and angina when it comes to reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke.

According to the Free MD Web site, aspirin and angina leads to 50 percent fewer heart attacks. With those suffering from heart disease, mortality risks drop 25 percent. Despite the efficacy of aspirin in easing angina, however, rest is often the most crucial treatment. For more seriously clogged arteries, angioplasty or bypass surgery may be the only options to experience an improvement.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Dan Harkins
By Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins, a former military professional, brings his diverse life experiences to his writing. After earning his journalism degree, he spent more than two decades honing his craft as a writer and editor for various publications. Dan’s debut novel showcases his storytelling skills and unique perspective by drawing readers into the story’s captivating narrative.
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Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins, a former military professional, brings his diverse life experiences to his writing. After earning his...
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