The appropriate treatment for chest pain depends upon the underlying health disorder that triggers pain. Chest pain induced by narrowing of the coronary artery is widely treated with nitroglycerin tablets that help to widen the blood vessels, providing prompt relief from the chest pain and discomfort.
When a blood clot is responsible for the pain, blood-thinning drugs or clot-busting medications are used for reducing the pain. When chest pain develops due to flow of stomach acid into the esophagus, antacids can provide fast relief from the pain. Chest pain is a common symptom of panic attack that can be healed with anti-anxiety drugs.
Medications to Treat Chest Pain
Nitroglycerin is one of the most effective drugs for treating chest pain or angina. Largely used as a sublingual tablet, nitroglycerin belongs to the class of drugs known as vasodilators. It works by relaxing and dilating the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart, thereby preventing the heart from working hard to sustain its pumping function.
Although nitroglycerin tablets provide fast relief from chest pain, it cannot cure the underlying problem in the coronary artery. Nitroglycerin is widely used as an emergency treatment to reduce the severity of a heart attack. These drugs are well tolerated. Dizziness, lightheadedness and flushing are common side effects of the drug.
Thrombolytic drugs, commonly known as clot buster drugs, are used for treating chest pain induced by clots in the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. By curing the coronary artery disease, they help to heal angina. These drugs are used for preventing severe or long-term damage to the heart. Thrombolytic drugs are widely used as emergency treatment following a heart attack. By breaking down the blood clots, they facilitate smooth flow of the blood to the heart.
Drugs used for busting clots include tissue plasminogen activator, urokinase, tenecteplase, streptokinase, alteplase and reteplase. However, these drugs are not recommended for people with a history of hemorrhagic stroke, allergy to a clot bluster and bleeding disorder. They should be avoided by people with cerebral vascular lesion, uncontrolled high blood pressure, liver disease and peptic ulcer. Bleeding, low blood pressure, fever and allergic reactions are common side effects of thrombolytic drugs.
Anticoagulant or blood thinning medication reduces chest pain by thinning the blood, thereby improving blood flow through the coronary blood vessels. These medications prevent formation of blood clots in people susceptible to blood clotting in the coronary artery. Moreover, anticoagulants prevent the existing clots from growing. Warfarin is the most popular blood-thinning drug, taken orally by people prone to chest pain.
Other anticoagulants used for treating chest pain include heparin, dalteparin sodium and enoxaparin sodium. These blood thinners are usually injected during hospitalization. Common side effects of anticoagulants include excess bleeding, easy bleeding, dizziness, headache, breathing difficulty and unusual pain.
When chest pain is a symptom of heartburn, antacids can provide fast relief from the discomfort.Acid suppressing drugs such as proton pump inhibitors and histamine receptor blockers can provide respite from chest pain caused by excess flow of gastric acid into the esophagus.\
Chest pain caused by panic attack is treated with anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), dopamine drugs and monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOIs).