Can Angina Be Cured by Exercise?

  • 1st Revision: Emma Soopramanien
  • 2nd Revision: Wasi Karim
  • 3rd Revision: Keri Wilkie

Based on an article by “Exercise‐based cardiac rehabilitation for adults with stable angina”

Originally written by: Long et al., 2018 1 

What is Angina?

Angina manifests as pain in the chest, resulting from reduced blood flow to the heart. It is estimated that about two million people in the UK are diagnosed with angina, which affects 8% of people assigned female at birth (AFAB) and 14% of people assigned male at birth (AMAB).2  

Angina is potentially life-threatening and can be an indicator of heart attack or stroke. The symptoms of angina include breathlessness, feeling sick, and tightness in the chest which can spread to other parts of the upper body such as the neck, arm and jaw. Angina can be provoked by exercise or stress. However, the pain usually stops within minutes after resting. 

Risk Factors for Angina

The two main types of angina are; stable angina, triggered by exercise or stress, and unstable angina, which is more severe and unpredictable and may not stop after resting.3 There are several risk factors for angina, including elevated blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, unbalanced diet, old age, and family history of diabetes.4 

Exercise and Angina

Although exercise can trigger angina, it has been suggested that certain exercises can also improve the way the body takes in and uses oxygen in the body.

Furthermore, exercise helps reduce symptoms such as breathlessness and chest pain for angina patients. It encourages the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the heart to work better. Exercise also decreases the chances of angina worsening and decreases the chances of heart attack and stroke. 

Exercising helps manage weight, which is one of the risk factors for developing angina. It has been suggested that aerobic exercise provides the most benefits for angina patients. 5 

It makes the heart work harder, making you breathe more quickly to obtain more oxygen. Exercises as simple as walking, cycling and doing general workouts at home are suitable. Exercising with friends and family helps motivate and encourage individuals to take up daily exercise. 

What Type of Exercise is Safe for Angina?

There are specific ways in which angina patients can exercise safely without triggering angina symptoms. This includes slowly warming up for a few minutes; this opens up the blood vessels, which can help prevent angina symptoms. When individuals finish exercising, they should slow down for a couple of minutes to return their heart rate to a regular resting rate.6 5

Long et al. suggest an exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation programme for individuals with stable angina. The programme varies from six weeks to one year. It aims to help individuals with heart disease such as angina improve their health. The programme includes exercising and receiving advice on how to improve one’s health. This takes place in the community, in hospitals or at home. 

The article investigated whether the programme can help reduce the death rate, surgery requirements, quality of life, heart attacks, level of fitness and symptoms of angina amongst patients. They suggested that there may be minor improvements in patients' physical fitness after the cardiac rehabilitation programme compared to the standard treatment methods available.1 


Ultimately, the results from the study showed that there was inadequate evidence to prove that the programme had a sufficient impact on patients’ lives.1,6 Therefore, in conclusion, better quality studies and a better representation of angina patients are required to assess the effects of exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation. 


  1. Long L, Anderson L, Dewhirst AM, He J, Bridges C, Gandhi M, et al. Exercise‐based cardiac rehabilitation for adults with stable angina. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2018;2018:CD012786.
  2. Angina | GM [Internet]. GM. 2022 [cited 11 March 2022]. Available from: 
  3. Angina [Internet]. 2022 [cited 11 March 2022]. Available from: 
  4. Angina (Chest Pain) [Internet]. 2022 [cited 11 March 2022]. Available from: 
  5. Aerobics for beginners [Internet]. 2022 [cited 17 March 2022]. Available from:
  6. How to exercise when you have angina [Internet]. 2020 [cited 11 March 2022]. Available from: 
  7. Long L, Anderson L, He J, Gandhi M, Dewhirst A, Bridges C et al. Exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation for stable angina: systematic review and meta-analysis. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [Internet]. 2018 [cited 11 March 2022];2:1-64. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Murielle Nsiela

MSc Graduate in Medical Engineering - Bachelor's degree, Pharmaceutical Science, Keele University, Staffordshire UK

MSc in Medical Engineering Design, Keele University Modules included: Advanced engineering applications, Engineering for medical applications report, Bioreactors and Growth environment, Creative engineering design, Experimental research methodology and research projects

BSc (Hons) Pharmaceutical Science, Technology and Business, Keele University Modules included: Core topics in pharmaceutical science, Laboratory studies - tabletting and liposomes report, applied Pharmaceutical Science 2, Pharmaceutical research project

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