Preventing angina 

Having a healthy lifestyle is the most effective way of reducing your risk of angina.

If you already have angina, making lifestyle changes also helps prevent your symptoms getting worse and reduces your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

The best way to achieve this is to eat a healthy, balanced diet, try to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level, and avoid smoking. This will lower your blood pressure, reduce your cholesterol levels and strengthen your heart.

Healthy diet

An unhealthy diet high in saturated fat and salt increases your risk of developing angina, and increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

A diet that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables and lots of fibre, such as wholegrain rice, bread and pasta, can help reduce this risk.

Fruit and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre, and help keep your body in good condition. You should aim to eat five 80g portions of fruit and vegetables every day.

Read more about good food, healthy eating and getting your 5 A DAY.

Cutting down on saturated fat

Eating high-fat foods can cause fatty plaques to build up in your arteries. You can help prevent this by avoiding foods that contain saturated fats.

Foods high in saturated fat include:

  • meat pies
  • sausages and fatty cuts of meat
  • butter
  • ghee – a type of butter often used in Indian cooking
  • lard
  • cream
  • hard cheese
  • cakes and biscuits
  • food that contains coconut or palm oil

Eating a small amount of unsaturated fat increases the level of good cholesterol and helps reduce any blockage in your arteries. Foods high in unsaturated fat include:

  • oily fish
  • avocados
  • nuts and seeds
  • sunflower, rapeseed and olive oil

For more information, see facts about fat and eat less saturated fat.

Cutting down on salt

You should also cut down on the amount of salt in your food, as it can raise your blood pressure.

You should aim to eat less than 6g (0.2oz) of salt a day, which is about a teaspoonful. For more information, see tips for a lower-salt diet.

Stopping smoking

Smoking can significantly increase your risk of both heart attacks and strokes, as it causes your arteries to narrow and raises your blood pressure.

If you decide to stop smoking, your GP can refer you to the NHS Smokefree service, which provides you with dedicated help and advice about the best ways to give up smoking.

You can also call the Smokefree National Helpline on 0300 123 1044. The specially trained helpline staff will offer you free expert advice and encouragement.

If you're committed to giving up smoking but don't want to be referred to a stop smoking service, your GP should be able to prescribe medical treatment to help with any withdrawal symptoms you may experience after giving up.

Read more about stopping smoking and stop smoking treatments.

Reducing your alcohol consumption

Regularly drinking alcohol above the maximum recommended limits can raise your blood pressure.

Alcohol is also high in calories, so you'll gain weight if you drink regularly, which can further increase your blood pressure.

Staying within the recommended levels is the best way to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure:

  • men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week
  • spread your drinking over three days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week

Read more about alcohol units and tips on cutting down on alcohol.

Maintaining a healthy weight

Being overweight forces your heart to work harder to pump blood around your body, which can raise your blood pressure. Find out if you need to lose weight with the BMI healthy weight calculator.

If you do need to lose weight, it's worth remembering that just losing a few pounds will make a big difference to your blood pressure and overall health. Get tips on losing weight safely.


Being active and taking regular exercise helps keep your heart and blood vessels in good condition. Regular exercise can also help you lose weight and lower your blood pressure.

Starting an exercise programme when you have angina can be challenging as physical activity may trigger the symptoms of an angina attack. But the more you exercise, the less likely it is you'll have an angina attack.

Low-impact activities, such as walking, swimming and cycling, are recommended, whereas more strenuous activities, such as playing football and squash, should be avoided.

Find out about walking for health, swimming for fitness, and the benefits of cycling.

Page last reviewed: 29/04/2015

Next review due: 29/04/2017