A heart attack is a loss of blood flow to part of the heart. It can be mild or severe and may cause permanent damage. A blockage in blood vessels that supply the heart muscles is often the cause. It may be blocked with a build-up called plaque, a blood clot, or both.
Emergency medical care is important for a heart attack. Fast care may help to increase blood flow and stop or decrease damage. It may also stop the heart attack from being fatal.
Natural treatments are not helpful when heart attacks happen. Natural treatments may help to prevent conditions that lead to heart attacks. Most heart attacks are caused by atherosclerosis. See this topic for more information. Natural treatments may help to recover after a heart attack when used with standard care. The natural treatments in this topic will focus on the period following a heart attack.
May Be Effective
- Chelation therapy is a medicine that binds and removes items from the body. It is believed to bind to the calcium that is in plaque in the arteries. It may improve plaque as it moves through the blood. ( Note : Chelation therapy may cause severe health problems.)A1, A2
- Coenzyme Q10 is a substance found in the body that can also be taken as a supplement. It may provide protective effects.B1, B2
- Red yeast rice is a traditional Chinese medicine. May decrease future heart attacks.B3, B4
- Tea consumption (caffeinated) may lower mortality after a heart attack.C1
Unlikely To Be Effective
- L-rginine is an amino acid, a building block of protein. It has no effect on physical recovery after a heart attack.B5
- Omega-3 fatty acids are an unsaturated fatty acid. It is found in fish oil and available as a supplement. It has not been found to reduce the risk of another heart attack. ( Note : Omega-3 supplements may cause problems in people with certain health conditions.)B6-B10
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution
Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse, such as:
- Chelation therapy may cause severe problems, such as kidney damage. It should be avoided.
- Omega-3 fatty acids may cause problems for people who take blood thinners or are diabetic.
- Red yeast rice can lower cholesterol. It may cause problems in people who also take cholesterol-lowering medicine.B11
A1. Lamas GA, Goertz C, et al. Effect of disodium EDTA chelation regimen on cardiovascular events in patients with previous myocardial infarction: the TACT randomized trial. JAMA. 2013 Mar 27;309(12):1241-1250.
A2. Escolar E, Lamas GA, et al. The effect of an EDTA-based chelation regimen on patients with diabetes mellitus and prior myocardial infarction in the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT). Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2014 Jan;7(1):15-24.
B1. Singh RB, Wander GS, et al. Randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial of coenzyme Q10 in patients with acute myocardial infarction. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 1998 Sep;12(4):347-353.
B2. Singh RB, Neki NS, et al. Effect of coenzyme Q10 on risk of atherosclerosis in patients with recent myocardial infarction. Mol Cell Biochem. 2003 Apr;246(1-2):75-82.
B3. Li JJ, Lu ZL, et al. Beneficial impact of Xuezhikang on cardiovascular events and mortality in elderly hypertensive patients with previous myocardial infarction from the China Coronary Secondary Prevention Study (CCSPS). J Clin Pharmacol. 2009 Aug;49(8):947-956.
B4. Lu Z, Kou W, et al. Effect of xuezhikang, an extract from red yeast Chinese rice, on coronary events in a Chinese population with previous myocardial infarction. Am J Cardiol. 2008;101:1689-1693.
B5. Sun T, Zhou WB, et al. Oral L-arginine supplementation in acute myocardial infarction therapy: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clin Cardiol. 2009 Nov;32(11):649-652.
B6. Rauch B, Schiele R, et al. OMEGA, a randomized, placebo-controlled trial to test the effect of highly purified omega-3 fatty acids on top of modern guideline-adjusted therapy after myocardial infarction. Circulation. 2010 Nov 23;122(21):2152-2159.
B7. Logacheva IV, Barantseva NG, et al. [Influence of ω-3 PUFAs on predictors of sudden cardiac death in patients with Q-wave myocardial infarction. Kardiologiia. 2012;52(12):17-23.
B8. Kromhout D, Giltay EJ, et al. n-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular events after myocardial infarction. N Engl J Med. 2010 Nov 18;363(21):2015-2026.
B9. Heydari B, Abdullah S, et al. Effect of Omega-3 acid ethyl esters on left ventricular remodeling after acute myocardial infarction: The OMEGA-REMODEL randomized clinical trial. Circulation. 2016 Aug 2;134(5):378-391.
B10. akarewicz-Wujec M, Parol G, et al. Supplementation with omega-3 acids after myocardial infarction and modification of inflammatory markers in light of the patients' diet: a preliminary study. Kardiol Pol. 2017;75(7):674-681.
B11. Raschi E, Girardi A, et al. Adverse Events to Food Supplements Containing Red Yeast Rice: Comparative Analysis of FAERS and CAERS Reporting Systems. Drug Saf. 2018 Aug;41(8):745-752.
B12. Loffredo L, Perri L, et al. Supplementation with vitamin E is associated with reduced myocardial infraction: a meta-analysis. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2015;25(4):354-363.
B13. Duggal JK, Singh M, et al. Effect of niacin therapy on cardiovascular outcomes in patients with coronary artery disease. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 2010;15(2):158-166.
C1. Mukamal KJ, Maclure M, et al. Tea consumption and mortality after acute myocardial infarction. Circulation. 2002 May 28;105(21):2476-2481.
Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC Last Updated: 11/16/2020