Angina can be described as chest pain or discomfort that comes as a result of an area of the heart muscle not getting enough blood that is rich in oxygen. Most patients report feeling a squeezing or pressure in their chests. The pain may also be felt in the arms, shoulders, neck back or jaw. At times the pain may feel like indigestion. Angina itself is not a disease but an indication of an underlying disease such as coronary heart disease.
There are several types of angina that are known. The first one is stable angina which is the most common type. It is usually a result of the heart working harder than it is used to. It has a specific pattern that can help you to predict when the next pain will occur. The pain only lasts a few minutes after you take your medicine or after you take a rest. This however should not be confused with a heart attack but it is a sign that a heart attack may happen soon. Unstable angina on the other hand has no particular pattern. It can occur more times and is more severe than stable angina. This kind of angina can require immediate treatment because of its severity. Variant angina on the other hand is very rare and is caused by a spasm in the coronary artery. The pain can be quite sever and occurs when someone is resting. The likely times that it happens are between early morning and midnight. Micro vascular angina on the other hand lasts longer than the previously described anginas and is more severe. Medicine may not relieve the pain that comes with angina.
Causes of Angina
There are a number of factors that can trigger angina and they are listed below:
- Coronary heart disease is the most common root cause of most types of angina. Fat deposits known as plaque cause the walls of the arteries to become narrow and thus reduce blood flow to the heart. Plaque varies in the way it is composed. Hard plaque leads to a narrowing of the blood arteries while soft plaque breaks down and results in blood clots. When plaque builds up in the arterial walls, it can cause angina by :
- Greatly minimizing the amount of blood that is flowing to the heart by narrowing down the arteries.
- Blocking the arteries totally or partially by forming blood clots.
- Physical exertion such as exercises, sexual activities and hurrying. Although these are not considered to be causes, they can be classified as triggers since angina is caused by lack of enough oxygenated blood to the heart.
- Emotional strain such as frustration, anger, fright or stress
- The intake of heavy meals all at once
- Being exposed to extremely cold or hot temperatures.
- Although rare, variant angina is caused by a spasm in the coronary artery. The walls of the artery tighten causing them to go into spasms. This consequently causes the blood flow to be restricted.
- Lack of adequate oxygen in the air that you breathe
- Artery infection
- Injury to one of the arteries.
Symptoms of Angina
The symptoms of angina are similar to those of a heart attack and it might be difficult to tell them apart. The only clue that you might get is that the pain of a heart attack never goes away unless you seek medical treatment but angina pain usually subsides unless it is variant angina. The following are some of the symptoms associated with angina:
- Pressure that is uncomfortable, squeezing, fullness or pain in the chest
- A heavy weight, the feeling of burning or tightness in the chest.
- The pain may subsequently spread to the arms, neck or shoulders
- The pain may also be felt ion the jaw, back or abdomen.
- The intensity of the pain may range from intense to mild
- Shortness of breath
- Light headedness
- Sweaty skin that is cold to the touch or excessive sweating
- Heart beat that is irregular or rapid
- Paleness of the skin
If you experience any of the above symptoms it is best to seek medical advice as soon as possible.
Angina Home Remedies
Angina has been established to be caused by a drop in the amount of oxygen that is supplied to the heart. There are a number of ways in which you can treat angina. Remember, you should always consult with your physician in order to get a proper diagnosis and before trying to incorporate these home remedies yourself! Here are some of the home remedies that you can try.
- Stop Smoking– Stop smoking all together if you suffer from angina. This is because smoking causes the arteries to become narrow and therefore restrict the amount of blood that is flowing to the heart.
- Avoid Saturated Fats– Reducing your intake of saturated fats is another way of ensuring that the chances of you suffering from another angina attack are minimized. This is because these saturated fats clog your arteries and restrict blood flow to the heart. The most common sources of saturate fats include dairy products and red meat. These kinds of meat should be replaced with a diet that has poultry, vegetables, fish and dairy products that have low amounts of fat.
- Magnesium- Magnesium intake will help to relax the heart muscles. This will result in better performance. Foods that are rich in magnesium include kale, spinach, turnip greens and mustard seeds. Magnesium supplements can also be ingested.
- Exercise– Regular exercises that are not too strenuous will also help to increase the arte at which blood flows into the heart thus reducing chances of you experiencing angina. I addition, regular exercises will help to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood stream thus reducing chances of your arterial walls becoming clogged.
- Keep your head tilted upward– To reduce discomfort during an angina attack, you can tilt your head upwards by 4 or 3 inches. You can also reduce the pressure of blood flow to your heart by sitting on the edge of the bed with your feet on the ground.
- Hawthorn Berries– Hawthorn berries can be used as a heart tonic which improves blood circulation. Two teaspoons of berries mixed with one cup of water can be taken either hot or cold at least three times a day.
- Relaxation– When you have an angina attack, try and relax. Relaxation can be achieved by using about two to three drops of lavender oil on a tissue or in the bath. Inhale the scent so as to help you relax faster. The sessions could take about twenty minutes and should be repeated before dinner and breakfast.
- Parsley-This is recognized as one of the most effective herbal remedies for angina and other heart complications. You can chew the fresh leaves or prepare herbal tea. This tea is most preferred because of its aroma and effectiveness.
- Onions-Raw onions are also effective in treating angina. But they are a bit callous on taste. Take the onions in the morning when your stomach is empty. They help lower cholesterol levels.
- Veggies-If you want to keep your body away from Angina and other serious heart complications, it is advisable that you stay away from cholesterol rich foods such as mutton. These foods will lead to clogging up of arteries that supply blood to the heart. Similarly, you should take dairy products cautiously because they contain fats that can increase cholesterol levels in your body.
- Basi Leaves-These leaves are common in India and other Asian countries. They are widely known as Tulsi in India. They are effective in preventing Angina and a couple of other heart complications. You should therefore chew several Basi leaves everyday, especially at daybreak when your stomach is empty.
- Lemon-Lemon is one of the most common herbal remedy for Angina. It prevents the accumulation of cholesterol by cleaning the blood vessels. Regular use of lemon plays a major role in keeping Angina and other heart conditions at bay.
- Honey-Regular consumption of natural honey helps to cure Angina and other heart related conditions. You should always ensure that your diet comprises of a small amount of honey mixed with hot lemon. This mixture works best when taken in the morning when the stomach is still empty. It helps to keep blood vessels clean and prevent cases of cholesterol formation.
- Garlic-Garlic helps to treat various medical conditions including heart diseases such as angina. To ensure that your garlic retains its medical properties, add it in salads and take while still fresh.
Diet for Angina
The following are some of the diet recommendations for people suffering from angina:
- People who suffer from angina should minimize their intake of saturated fats. Fats that come from animal meet should be avoided at all costs. This is because these fats increase the rate at which you develop obesity and this could lead to clogging of the arteries. Other dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt and other fatty dairy products should be replaced by products that are low in fat content. Theses sources of fats can be replaced with sunflower oil, fish, and poultry among other sources that are rich in “good” cholesterol.
- Baked foods that contain refined sugar and animal fats should also be avoided at all costs because they promote an increase in weight which could put pressure on the arteries.
- Intake of vegetables and fruits is also encouraged so as to boost the immune system and prevent infection of the arteries.
- Intake of foods rich in fiber reduces the rate at which cholesterol is absorbed by the body and therefore people suffering from angina should increase their intake of foods rich in fiber
- Angina patients should also reduce their intake of sodium so as to lower blood pressure which can trigger another angina attack.
Prevention of Angina
Angina can be prevented by making a few changes which are listed below:
- Smoking and second hand smoke should be avoided at all costs. This is because with time smoking narrows the arteries causing them to limit blood supply to the heart.
- Observe the triggers that cause you to have an angina attack. These triggers could be stress, physical exertion or other triggers. These triggers should be avoided at all costs.
- Adopt a healthy diet. Avoid a diet that is high in fats and bad cholesterol. These contribute to the narrowing of the walls thus restricting blood flow.
- Adopt a daily exercise routine such as walking.
- Ensure that you maintain a weight that is healthy for your height and age.
- Look for ways in which you can handle stress which is a main trigger of angina. Look for relaxing techniques such as yoga or take a relaxing bath that will help you unwind and release most of your stress.
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