Angina pectoris is the name for a clinical syndrome rather than a disease. It is also known as stable angina. The term is used to describe discomfort or chest pain when the muscle cells of the heart don’t get enough blood to properly carry out their pumping function. It is likely to occur when the coronary blood flow is less than is required. Symptoms include pain in the chest radiating to the left arm, breathlessness, palpitation, sweating, nausea, dizziness or fainting, heaviness or tightness in the chest or upper abdomen.
In most cases, angina pectoris is caused due to the thickening of arteries that supply blood, oxygen and nutrients to the heart (coronary atherosclerosis). This happens when plaques or fatty deposits narrow the arteries over time and reduce blood flow to the heart.
Symptoms may appear at times when the heart needs more blood supply such as during physical, mental and emotional exertion. When the heart tries to pump faster to need the body increased demand for oxygen, the narrow arteries struggle to keep. In the meantime the heart receives too little oxygen causing chest pain.
Some chief causes of angina pectoris may include smoking, sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, high blood fats or high cholesterol, diabetes and family history of ischemic heart disease.
Angina pectoris is a set of symptoms rather than a disease. The common types of symptoms include:
- Pain or discomfort in the middle of the chest accompanied by sweating and breathlessness.
- Pressure or feeling of tightness in the chest.
- Pain radiating to the neck, jaw and left arm or both the arms.
- Sometimes radiating pain in the upper back and shoulders.
Angina pectoris is due to aggravated kapha dosha. Kaphais an Ayurvedic humor, which is dense, heavy, firm, stable, slow, thick, sticky, wet, clear and cold in nature. Kapha governs all structure and lubrication in the mind and body. It controls weight and formation of all the seven tissues — nutritive fluids, blood, fat, muscles, bones, marrow and reproductive tissues. Kapha (in a balanced state) gives nourishment to these tissues through various micro channels.
However, aggravated kapha leads to production of toxins (ama) in the body. These toxins are heavy and dense in nature and when they accumulate in the weaker channels of the body they cause blockage of these channels. In angina pectoris ama accumulate in the hridhya vahi channels (heart channels) and cause blockage. Again, due to the blockage of heart channels vata dosha is aggravated. Vata is an Ayurvedic humour which symbolises air or wind. It is dry, mobile, cool and subtle in nature. Pain is also a symptom of aggravated vata dosha.
Ayurvedic treatment consists of restoring the digestive fire, eliminating toxins from the body, pacifying the vitiated body energies and toning the heart. Diet and regimen adjustments are also advised, emphasis being placed on the avoidance of stress and emotional anxiety. Tension at the mental level must always be addressed when disorders of the heart are present.
Diet & Lifestyle advice
Ayurvedic treatment of angina pectoris begins with the corrections in diet, lifestyle and activities. The purpose of the right diet in this condition is to maintain correct body weight and reduce risk factors. Patients are recommended fat-free or low fat diet that includes 25-30 percent of your total calorie intake. Reduce saturated fats and carbohydrates in the diet because it increases risk. A low-salt diet and cutting down of coffee and tea is also advised.
Absolute bed rest is not necessary in stable angina but frequent attacks of angina may require immediate medical intervention. One can do mild exercises. Walking on plane surface is the exercise of choice and the duration should increase gradually. Meditation and shavasana is helpful in restoring tranquility, peace and managing stress.
- Take a teaspoon of fresh basil juice along with a teaspoon of honey regularly on an empty stomach.
- Take one teaspoon of raw onion juice first thing in the morning. It is good for the heart.
- During the fruit’s season take one medium-sized Indian gooseberry with a little salt. When not in season dry pieces can be chewed.
- Grapes are especially effective in heart pain and palpitations of the heart. In fact grape juice is known to be effective even during a heart attack.
- Take 2 to 5 cloves of garlic, crush them and take with honey or water on empty stomach.
- Take 5-7 mashed cloves of garlic, 100 ml milk and 200 ml water and mixed all the three. Now boil the mixture till it reduces to 200 ml. Add one teaspoonful honey and take it regularly twice a day – preferably morning and evening.
*Please note that use of garlic in any form is contraindicated in gastritis.