Question: I get angina after climbing a flight of stairs. Is it safe to exercise by myself or should I do it under medical supervision?
Answer: Well, the immediate way to answer the question of what to do if you're having angina after climbing stairs is: does do your doctor know about this? Is this something you and your doctor have talked about? Because if this is something you're aware of and he or she is not, don't exercise until you have this evaluated.
This could be a little problem or it could be a big problem. Full evaluation is necessary. In this case, your doctor might want to do a stress test to see how you do on the treadmill; what happens when you exercise, does your heart function ok, is there adequate blood flow to your heart, does the heart function normally and increase its ability to pump blood, or do things really go haywire when you exercise? So that should be done under supervision, if it hasn't been done already, and in some cases your doctor may prescribe medications for this, he may order a stress test, he may order even a coronary angiogram to find out how narrow those blood vessels are.
Now let's assume, on the other hand, that you've been treated for this condition, you know what your coronary arteries look like, you may have already had a bypass operation. In some cases, angina is okay if it's stable. And exercise is quite okay. And we actually encourage people who have chronic stable angina, that we're already treating effectively, to continue exercising even if they're having symptoms, because again exercise is good for your heart. But never do this without your doctor's approval and your doctor's knowledge -- and especially if this is a new symptom. Don't go exercising on your own.
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