Angina pectoris is caused by an insufficient supply of oxygen to the heart muscle. Angina usually precedes a heart attack.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Angina?
The characteristic symptoms are a squeezing or pressure-like pain in the chest occurring immediately after exertion. Angina can also be triggered by emotional tension, cold weather or large meals. Pain may radiate to the left shoulder blade, left arm or jaw. The pain typically lasts for only one to 20 minutes.
What Causes Angina?
Angina is almost always due to atherosclerosis—the buildup of cholesterol-containing plaque that progressively narrows and ultimately blocks the blood vessels supplying the heart (the coronary arteries). This blockage results in a decreased supply of blood and oxygen to the heart tissue. When the flow of oxygen to the heart muscle is substantially reduced, or when there is an increased need by the heart, it results in angina.
Which Dietary Factors are Important in Angina?
I recommend the following diet to reduce the risk of angina and atherosclerosis:
- An abundance of plant food, including fruit, vegetables, breads, pasta, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds
- Minimally processed foods, with a focus on seasonally fresh and locally grown products
- Fresh fruit as the typical daily dessert, with sweets containing concentrated sugars or honey consumed a few times per week at the most
- Daily consumption of dairy products, principally cheese and yogurt, in low to moderate amounts and in low-fat varieties
- Regular consumption of fish
- Moderate consumption of poultry and eggs—about one to four times weekly—or not at all
- Small, infrequent amounts of red meat
- Olive oil as the principal source of fat
- Wine in low to moderate amounts, normally with meals
The two components of the Mediterranean diet that have received a lot of attention are red wine and olive oil. Red wine is thought to be responsible for the “French paradox,” a term used to explain why the French consume more saturated fat than Americans, yet have a lower incidence of heart disease. This is thought to be the result of the flavonoids in red wine, which protect against oxidative damage to the arteries from LDL (bad) cholesterol.
In addition to oleic acid — a heart-protective monounsaturated fatty acid — olive oil also contains several antioxidant agents that prevent circulating LDL cholesterol from becoming damaged and then subsequently damaging the arteries. Olive oil lowers amounts of LDL cholesterol and increases the level of protective HDL cholesterol. It has also been proven to reduce elevated blood triglycerides (another risk factor for heart disease), though it is not as effective as fish oils.
Which Nutritional Supplements Should I Take for Angina?
Foundation Supplements. There are three products from Natural Factors that I think are critical in supporting good health:
- MultiStart: Age- and gender-specific multiple vitamin and mineral formulas. Follow label instructions for dosages.
- Enriching Greens: A great-tasting “greens drink” containing highly concentrated greens like chlorella, spirulina, wheat grass juice and barley grass juice, along with herbal extracts. Take one serving (1 tablespoon) in 8 ounces of water daily.
- RxOmega-3 Factors: A true pharmaceutical-grade fish-oil supplement. For arrhythmias, take five capsules daily. This dosage will provide 2,000 mg of EPA and 1,000 mg of DHA.
Magnesium deficiency plays a major role in many cases of angina, as it has been shown to produce spasms of the coronary arteries. Magnesium improves the delivery of oxygen to the heart muscle by relaxing the coronary artery as well as by improving the production of energy within the heart muscle. Take 150 to 250 mg three times per day. Magnesium bound to aspartate, citrate, and malate is preferred to magnesium bound to oxide because of better absorption.
Carnitine is a vitamin-like compound that plays a major role in energy production within the heart muscle. Several clinical trials have demonstrated that carnitine relieves angina and improves exercise tolerance and heart function. Take 1,500 mg daily.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), like carnitine, also plays a major role in energy production within the heart. In one study, the frequency of angina attacks was reduced by 53 percent with CoQ10 supplementation. Take 200 to 300 mg daily.
Hawthorn (Crataegus sp.) berry and extracts of its flowering tops exhibit a combination of effects that are of great value to patients with angina and other heart problems. Studies have demonstrated that hawthorn extracts are effective in reducing angina attacks as well as in lowering blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels. For best results, use extracts containing either 10 percent procyanidins or 1.8 percent vitexin at a dosage of 100 to 250 mg three times daily.
I want to stress that angina is a serious condition that requires careful treatment and monitoring. In severe cases, as well as in the initial stages of mild to moderate angina, prescription medications may be necessary. In my experience, in all but the most severe cases, eventually it is possible to control the condition without drugs with the help of natural measures. I would still recommend always having an emergency nitroglycerine tablet handy, just in case.
In severe cases of angina due to significant blockage of the coronary artery, angioplasty, coronary artery bypass or intravenous EDTA chelation therapy may be appropriate. EDTA is an amino acid-like molecule that, when slowly infused into the bloodstream, chelates (binds) with minerals such as calcium, iron, copper and lead and carries them to the kidneys, where they are excreted. EDTA chelation has been commonly used for lead poisoning, but in the late 1950s and early ’60s it was found to help patients with angina, peripheral vascular disease and cerebral vascular disease. For more information, contact the American College for the Advancement in Medicine (ACAM): 800-532-3688; www.acam.org.
How do I Know if the Recommendations are Working?
If you are experiencing angina, you will need to be monitored by a physician. My natural program is definitely indicated if you have angina, and will help conventional medications for angina such as nitroglycerine tablets work better. The program will help improve exercise tolerance and heart function.
“Dr. Murray, before starting your program I could not walk more than 50 feet without popping a nitro pill. Now, I am walking two to three miles per day and have not used nitro in over four months. Thank you!” —MH