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Natural Approach to Angina Treatment

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Updated September 24, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

What Is Angina?

Often a symptom of coronary heart disease or another heart condition, angina occurs when the heart muscle doesn't get enough blood. Although angina is typically marked by discomfort in the chest, pain can also affect the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back.

What Causes It?

For most people, the reduced blood flow associated with angina results from atherosclerosis (the buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries). Build up that is sufficient to cause angina, is a potentially life-threatening condition that requires medical attention. There are three different types of angina:

  • Stable angina (which tends to flare up during periods of physical exertion or stress)
  • Unstable angina (which doesn't follow a pattern and may signal an impending heart attack)
  • Variant angina (which typically occurs during periods of rest)
  • Stable angina is the most common form of the condition. Each type of angina requires a different type of medical treatment.

    Symptoms of Angina

    Angina often feels like indigestion (especially in the case of stable angina) and may include the following symptoms:

  • pain or discomfort in the chest (typically with a sensation of squeezing or pressure), possibly accompanied by pain the arms, neck, jaw, shoulder, or back
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • anxiety
  • sweating
  • dizziness
  • Treatment

    Since an increase in severity of angina symptoms can indicate worsening heart health or the threat of a heart attack, it's important to closely monitor your condition and notify your doctor of any changes. You should also seek immediate medical attention if your chest pain lasts longer than a few minutes and doesn't subside after you take angina medication.

    Treatments for angina include the use of medication (such as nitrates, beta-blockers, and ACE inhibitors) and medical procedures (such as angioplasty and coronary artery bypass grafting).

    Doctors also recommend making lifestyle changes (such as following a heart-healthy diet and a safe exercise program) to help control angina.

    Natural Remedies for Angina

    Given the serious nature of angina, it's crucial to work with a physician in managing the condition. Traditional medical treatments based on an individual's unique needs and conditions have been shown to reduce mortality when applied appropriately. There are some alternative therapies that may supplement your prescribed treatment. Talk to your doctor about using these options to help keep angina symptoms in check:

    1) Hawthorn

    Often used by herbalists to treat high blood pressure, the herb hawthorn has been shown to improve cardiac function in people with heart disease. In a 1997 study on animals, researchers determined that hawthorn may be useful in treatment of angina.

    2) L-Carnitine

    Derived from the amino acid lysine, L-Carnitine occurs naturally in the body and is also sold as a dietary supplement. Thought to decrease the swelling that causes your arteries to narrow, L-Carnitine was found to improve exercise tolerance in people with stable angina in a 2000 study.

    3) Yoga

    In a 1999 study of 93 people with angina or risk factors of coronary artery disease, researchers found that a 14-week yoga program helped improve heart health. Other relaxation techniques (such as meditation and tai chi) may help you manage angina by lowering your stress levels.

    Sources:

    Ahumada C, Sáenz T, García D, De La Puerta R, Fernandez A, Martinez E. "The effects of a triterpene fraction isolated from Crataegus monogyna Jacq. on different acute inflammation models in rats and mice. Leucocyte migration and phospholipase A2 inhibition." J Pharm Pharmacol. 1997 49(3):329-31.

    Iwamoto M, Sato T, Ishizaki T. "The clinical effect of Crataegutt in heart disease of ischemic or hypertensive origin. A multicenter double-blind study." Planta Med. 1981 42(1):1-16.

    Iyer RN, Khan AA, Gupta A, Vajifdar BU, Lokhandwala YY. "L-carnitine moderately improves the exercise tolerance in chronic stable angina." J Assoc Physicians India. 2000 48(11):1050-2.

    Mahajan AS, Reddy KS, Sachdeva U. "Lipid profile of coronary risk subjects following yogic lifestyle intervention." Indian Heart J. 1999 51(1):37-40.

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