Angina pectoris, commonly known as chest pain, could signal heart disease. Dr Fam Jiang Ming shares the common medicines used in treating angina or chest pain, and their potential side effects. Dr Fam is an Associate Consultant at the Department of Cardiology, in National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS), a member of the SingHealth group.

Common prescribed medicines for treating angina pectoris (chest pain) - Continued

2. Beta blockers

Besides preventing chest pain, beta blockers are also commonly used in the long term treatment of heart attack patients. According to Dr Fam, they help reduce workload of the heart by “lowering heart rate and blood pressure.”

Examples of beta blockers are acebutolol, atenolol, bisoprolol, carvedilol, metoprolol, nebivolol and propranolol.

Potential side effects of beta blockers:

  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Sleep disturbances such as insomnia and vivid dreams
  • Numbness or a tingling sensation in the fingers and toes

Shortness of breath, fainting spells and male impotence are all possible symptoms associated with the use of beta blockers. If you experience any of them, consult your doctor.

3. Calcium channel blockers

Calcium channel blockers control chest pain by relaxing blood vessels to increase blood supply to the heart, while slowing down heart rate. Apart from preventing angina, they can be used to treat high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats.

Examples of calcium channel blockers are amlodipine, diltiazem, nifedipine and verapamil.

Potential side effects of calcium channel blockers:

  • Dizziness
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Headaches
  • Leg swelling
  • Flushing (redness of the skin)
  • Constipation

Symptoms such as frequent or more severe chest pain, rapid pounding or irregular heartbeats and fainting spells are considered rare, but should be highlighted to a doctor if they occur.

4. Trimetazidine

By preserving the energy metabolism of heart muscle cells, trimetazidime helps to reduce the frequency of angina attacks and reduce the use of nitrates. It is mainly used as a second line agent when the patient does not have adequate control by or develop intolerance to first line medications.

Gastrointestinal discomfort such as nausea and vomiting is a potential side effect which is usually mild.

In conclusion, medical therapy has been used effectively in the treatment of heart attack. While most patients tolerate the medications well, there is still a possibility of developing side effects to these medications. Always consult a doctor if you notice possible side effects or experience a worsening of your condition such as an increase in severity or frequency of angina as this means that your treatment may have to be adjusted.

See previous page for more treatments and causes of angina.

Ref: R14​