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It isn’t always easy to diagnose angina as there can be many reasons for chest pain. As well as a physical examination, you may have blood tests, an electrocardiogram (also called an ECG) to see how well your heart is working and tests to see how well you heart performs when you exercise.
The test results will indicate your best treatment options.
If you call 999 and are suspected of having a heart attack, ambulance paramedics are trained to assess your condition and if appropriate, start treatment that breaks down the clot and restores the blood supply to your heart.
Once at the hospital, you may have an angioplasty operation to open up the narrowed arteries. This operation may also be offered as part of your longer term treatment, once your condition has stabilised.
Tests that confirm whether you have had a heart attack and its effect on your heart can also indicate your future treatment options. Your doctor should explain the risks and benefits of these options, which are likely to include medication and lifestyle changes and in some cases surgery.
You can find more information about treatment that may be proposed if you have angina or have had a heart attack on the British Heart Foundation and NHS Choices websites.
You are likely to find that doctors and health professionals at the hospital and at your GP practice are keen to help you understand more about your heart condition and work in partnership with you to make decisions about your care and help you to manage it on a day-to-day basis.
There is a section on NHS Choices that explains what you can expect from the NHS to manage long term conditions such as heart disease.
Many people make a full recovery from a heart attack and are back to normal in a couple of months. Others find they are not able to do as much as before.
Many hospitals run cardiac rehabilitation programmes. These often start while you are in hospital and continue for a while once you go home. Joining one increases your chances of getting back to normal as quickly as possible.
Programmes are likely to include supervised exercise sessions that take account of your heart condition, information to help you understand and manage your condition. This might include learning techniques to help you relax and looking at how you can build any necessary lifestyle changes into your everyday life.
The National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued a guideline for preventing another heart attack. It covers the treatment, advice and support that people who have had a heart attack should be offered by their general practice and local hospital, to help them avoid a further heart attack.
A patient version of this guideline is available on request or can be downloaded from their website. You can find out how to contact their orderline in the Further information section.
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