Other Proposed Natural Treatments
Probably Not Effective Treatments
Essentially, angina is a muscle cramp in the heart—the one muscle that cannot take a rest. It develops when the heart muscle does not receive enough oxygen for its needs from the arteries that supply it: the coronary arteries. Angina is, therefore, a symptom of coronary artery disease. Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of coronary artery disease; it causes thickened arterial walls and impaired blood flow.
People usually experience angina as a squeezing chest pain, as if a heavy weight rested on the chest or a tight band wrapped around it. This is often accompanied by sweating, shortness of breath, and possibly pain radiating into the left arm or neck. Usually, angina is brought on by exercise—the more rapidly the heart pumps, the more oxygen it needs. Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is the most common cause of angina.
People with angina are at high risk for a heart attack , and treatment must take that into account. Drugs that expand (dilate) the heart's arteries, such as nitroglycerin, can give immediate relief. Other drugs help over the long-term by making the heart's work easier. It is also important to slow or reverse the progression of atherosclerosis by treating high blood pressure and high cholesterol and by reducing other risk factors. Surgical treatments (such as angioplasty and coronary artery bypass grafting) physically widen the blood vessels that feed the heart.
Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
Angina is a serious disease that absolutely requires conventional medical evaluation and supervision. No one should self-treat for angina. However, alternative treatments may provide a useful adjunct to standard medical care when monitored by an appropriate healthcare professional. We intentionally do not give dosages in this section as they should be individualized by your doctor; however, you can find general guidelines in the separate articles on each substance.
Note: Because angina is usually caused by atherosclerosis, other relevant information may be found in the Atherosclerosis article.
The vitamin-like substance L-carnitine might be a good addition to standard therapy for angina. Carnitine plays a role in the cellular production of energy. Although carnitine does not address the cause of angina, it appears to help the heart produce energy more efficiently, thereby enabling it to get by with less oxygen.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full L-carnitine article.
Other Proposed Treatments for Angina
Various herbs and supplements may interact adversely with drugs used to treat angina. For more information on this potential risk, see the individual drug article in the Drug Interactions section of this database.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 07/2012 -
- Update Date: 07/25/2012 -