Angina is the squeezing, crushing like pain felt in the heart, because of insufficient blood and oxygen in the cardiac tissues. Angina typically begins as a slight painful sensation felt in the region immediately below the breastbone, slowly radiating out into the shoulders, the arm, or the jaw, the pain increases in intensity finally reaching a plateau-after which it begins to abate. An attack of angina can persist for up to 15 minutes at a time.
Atherosclerosis or the accumulation of plaque in the arteries that supply the heart with blood is the primary reason for angina in all patients with the condition. The muscles in the heart require blood and oxygen like any other body muscle, to do its work of pumping blood and to keep the circulatory system going heart muscles must be healthy and strong at all stages of a person's life.
The heart muscles are starved of oxygen if a person having atherosclerosis performs strenuous exercise, this is because even if the arteries remain wide enough to provide sufficient blood flow during muscular rest, but they can't supply enough oxygen when the physical demands on the cardiac tissue increases. Angina attacks are therefore often triggered by any kind of sudden exertion, these include activities such as climbing up stairs, running for the bus, or shoveling snow, these activities can put a sudden strain on the pumping ability of the heart muscles leading to an attack of angina. A temporary block in the coronary arteries can also lead to angina attacks in some cases, even though these attacks are not connected to any physical activity. These can come about when a small blood clot forms on the surface of a blood vessel's plaque leading to the clogging of the coronary artery. Spasms in the coronary artery can also give rise to attacks of angina.
There are basically three forms of angina, which include stable angina, variant angina and unstable angina. Many different reasons are responsible for the development of stable angina and these include smoking, stress, physical hard work as well as intensely hot or cold climates. Precisely speaking, stable angina is related to chest pain occurring in the arms as well as the back. It has been found that one develops unstable angina owing to total or partial congestion of any artery. In fact, compared to stable angina, unstable angina is a more serious condition and people suffering from it are almost certain to have a heart attack. It may be noted that unstable angina never occurs owing to physical hard work, stress or even extreme climatic conditions. Moreover, unlike stable angina, it is not possible to treat unstable angina by using specific medications.
On the other hand, variant angina occurs rarely and just about two per cent people are known to have this condition. Usually, variant angina is associated with acute pain and it generally occurs when one is taking rest. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that use of certain medications can effective cure this condition.
Supplements and herbs
All the supplements and herbs that are given can be used in combination or even alone as treatment for angina in the vast majority of patients. Prescription medications for angina can also be complemented by these herbs-they can be taken together. The advice of a doctor is essential if you intend to stop taking medication for problems related to the heart.
Cellular damage within the body can be avoided and prevented by supplements of the vitamins C and E in all patients. Arteries that have been injured by plaque accumulation can be repaired by the use of supplements of the vitamin C. Plaque build-up and accumulation can be blocked by the supplements of the vitamin E which blocks the oxidation of LDL or the so called "bad" cholesterol, this form of cholesterol is the initial trigger to the formation of plaque. Some minerals may be responsible for lowering the spasm in the coronary arteries; the level of these minerals and substances in the body is often low in some people with heart disease. Good examples for these substances are the vitamin E and the mineral magnesium.
There are several ways in which the heart can receive benefit through the use of amino acids. The arterial walls relax under the presence of nitric oxide, the amino acid arginine plays an important role in forming this nitric oxide. The amount of time patients spend exercising at moderate intensity is increased and the chances of chest pain is correspondingly decreased when arginine was consumed thrice a day as a measure against angina-this relation between angina and arginine use was found during one study on patients. The energy utilization efficiency of heart muscles is also increased by carnitine, another amino acid-like substance which can be used as a supplemental measure in angina patients. The amino acid, taurine, is possibly related to an ability to moderate heart rhythm abnormalities in patients with angina.
The workings of cardiac muscles can also be promoted and enhanced by the nutritional supplement coenzyme Q10 in an action similar to that of carnitine-this supplement reduces the hearts workload from daily stress. The hawthorn is another excellent herbal supplement that has been shown to be able to improve the blood flow to the heart in angina patients who took it. The flexibility of the arteries is maintained by including the essential fatty acids in the diet and these fats are also very effective in lowering triglyceride levels within the body-all factors that reduce the stress on the heart.
Additional things you may do
Diet should preferably rich in dietary fiber and should be low in fat. Some alternatives like using canola or olive oil instead of butter will promote health and avoid unnecessary complications. Stop smoking and avoid going to areas where there are likely to be smokers to reduce the chances of lapsing into the habit again and to prevent breathing in second-hand smoke. Relaxing is one of the best ways to beat angina. Relaxation techniques and meditation, including all techniques such as t'ai chi, and yoga may reduce the chances angina attacks and you should give them a try. Angina patients can benefit from the companionship offered through a support group. Your aim is to reverse the causes of the disease and as such you should spend time determining what factors have led you to this point in your life and what measures need to be taken to return to normalcy.
In case you are suffering from any type of angina, it is very much advisable that you should keep away from foods containing elevated levels of saturated fats, because this may possibly augment the bad or LDL cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. People suffering from angina should essentially keep away from whole milk, yogurt, butter, fats having their source in animals and also fried foods. It is advisable that people suffering from angina should use vegetable oils like sunflower oil, olive oil or rapeseed oil instead of saturated fats for cooking. In addition, they should get rid of all fats visible in meat prior to consuming it. It is recommended that people suffering from any type of angina should incorporate fish like mackerels, sardines and tuna in their daily diet, because these fish are excellent resources of omega-3 fats, which are effective in lowering the levels of bad cholesterol.
Other beneficial herbs