A friend of mine was recently diagnosed as having the onset of angina, despite being told by his physician that for the time being he only has to take half an aspirin daily he was interested to know what other treatments for angina, non-prescription ones such as vitamin and health supplements, are currently recommended.
Symptoms of angina attacks.
A crushing or squeezing pain in the chest does not have to signify a heart-attack as such, but may well instead be an angina attack. Angina pains arise when not enough oxygen carrying blood arrives at the heart causing pains to spread from the breastbone upwards to the shoulders and arms, and even the jaw. Attacks can last for up to 15 minutes with the level of pain intensifying throughout the attack, before eventually subsiding. Other symptoms include generally feeling weak, light-headed, nauseous and perspiring exceptionally; more disconcerting symptoms include shortness of breath and palpitations.
What causes an angina attack?
The lack of oxygenated blood reaching the heart is due to atherosclerosis, which basically means there’s a build up of plaque in the arteries supplying blood to the heart. Angina attacks when at rest are rare as although the veins are becoming blocked enough blood is still getting through to keep the heart working when not under stress. The problems arise when the heart is required to pump faster if, for example, you were to lift something, walk upstairs etc. At this point the heart cannot pump sufficient oxygenated blood to deal with the required effort and alerts you to its problems with – pain! Coronary arteries going into spasm can also cause angina attacks.
Vitamin and mineral supplements to help with angina.
Two vitamin supplements in particular will help to treat the symptoms of angina. The vitamins are vitamin C and vitamin E, both of which have an anti-oxidant effect which will help to heal any cell damage. However, vitamin C will actually help the body to repair any arteries damaged by the atherosclerosis and vitamin E is known to prevent the oxidation of LDL, the bad cholesterol which is one of the causes for the build up of the plaque in the arteries in the first place. Low levels of vitamin E are also known to be quite common in people with heart disease, so taking a vitamin E booster would be sensible for that reason alone. The presence of the mineral magnesium is also quite often low in people with heart disease and can actually cause spasms in coronary arteries, so a magnesium supplement would also be recommended.
Other health supplements for angina sufferers.
A 500mg supplement of L-arginine three times a day will help to relax the artery walls by forming nitric oxide in the body. Arginine is also one of the amino acid health supplements which can help angina sufferers to undergo light exercises without the risk of suffering angina pains. So, similarly another amino acid supplement is recommended too, 500mg of Carnitine, again taken three times a day will help by getting your heart muscle cells to use the energy available to them more efficiently. The nutritional supplement Coenzyme Q10, 100mg twice a day with food, will help the heart muscles to cope better with any workloads imposed on them whilst 100mg of hawthorn extract three times a day will simply improve the flow of blood to the heart. Finally, any essential fatty acid, such as 2000mg of fish oils three times a day, will lower your triglyceride levels helping to keep those arteries flexible.
Other things to do for angina.
You can take the onset of angina pains as a warning sign to take more care of your heart. So if you’re not already on one – switch to a low-fat diet using things like polyunsaturated spreads instead of butter. Giving up smoking will mean that your blood is carrying less harmful carbon monoxide and carry more oxygen, helping your heart to work more efficiently. Believe it or not but the very latest research shows that flossing your teeth, or adopting better dental hygiene procedures, can help reduce angina and heart disease. Apparently, and quite literally, plaque in your mouth can find its way into your blood system carrying bacteria along that can cause the atherosclerosis! Stress can also be a contributing factor to angina, so try and de-stress yourself by taking up a hobby or yoga.
Take care with angina!
The above self-treatments should only be taken in consultation with your physician and in the case of arginine and carnitine – should only be taken for 4 weeks. Also, patients with kidney disease should not take a magnesium supplement and vitamin E should be avoided if you’re prescribed an anti-coagulant. Most importantly though if your angina attack lasts more than 15 minutes or indeed if the angina attack changes significantly in its intensity or pattern etc – seek medical attention immediately as it may be a full heart attack!