Angina

Angina is pain that happens when the heart does not get enough oxygen. The pain is in the chest, but may also be in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. It is usually a symptom of coronary heart disease (CHD). CHD happens when blood vessels to the heart become narrow or blocked. Angina usually occurs when the heart is working hard, such as during exercise, but it can also occur at random.

Treatment begins with lifestyle changes to slow CHD and reduce angina symptoms. Medications are also used to decrease the heart’s need for oxygen or increase its supply of oxygen. Surgery may be done to open or bypass very blocked arteries. Angina is serious because it means CHD is present. This increases the risk of a heart attack. No one should self-treat for angina.

Natural Therapies

Likely Effective

Most natural therapies are used to treat the underlying CHD. Natural therapies may also be added to standard care to manage angina symptoms. These therapies may help decrease symptoms and improve activity levels. They cannot stop an episode of angina after it starts.

  • Acupuncture uses fine needles and inserts them at specific points to improve the flow of Qi (a form of “vital energy”).A1
  • Magnesium is a mineral in the body that relaxes and widens blood vessels. It may improve activity levels, reduce activity-induced chest pain, and improve quality of life.
    • Note: Magnesium should not be taken by people with severe kidney or heart disease unless advised by a doctor. It can also interfere with the absorption of other medications, such as some antibiotics.C2

Possibly Effective

The following herbs and supplements may be effective in managing symptoms of angina:

May Not Be Effective

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 all herbs or supplements you are taking. Some may interact with your treatment plan or health conditions. Some supplements discussed here have certain concerns such as:

  • Chelation therapy may cause severe problems, such as kidney damage. It should be avoided.
  • Magnesium should not be taken by people with severe kidney or heart disease unless advised by a doctor. It can impact the absorption of other medications, such as some antibiotics. Talk to your doctor about the medications you are taking.

References

Acupuncture

A1. Yu C, Ji K, et al. Effectiveness of acupuncture for angina pectoris: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2015 Mar 28;15:90.

Chelation Therapy

B1. Ernst E. Chelation therapy for coronary heart disease: An overview of all clinical investigations. Am Heart J . 2000;140:4-5.

B2. Knudtson ML, Wyse DG, Galbraith PD, et al. Chelation therapy for ischemic heart disease: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA . 2002;287:481-486.

B3. Anderson TJ, Hubacek J, Wyse DG, et al. Effect of chelation therapy on endothelial function in patients with coronary artery disease: PATCH substudy. J Am Coll Cardiol . 2003;41:420-425.

Herbs and Supplements

C1. Bartels GL, Remme WJ, Holwerda KJ, et al. Anti-ischaemic efficacy of L-propionylcarnitine—a promising novel metabolic approach to ischaemia? Eur Heart J. 1996;17:414-420.

C2. Shechter M, Bairey Merz CN, et al. Effects of oral magnesium therapy on exercise tolerance, exercise-induced chest pain, and quality of life in patients with coronary artery disease. Am J Cardiol. 2003 Mar 1;91(5):517-521.

Last reviewed February 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Richard Glickman-Simon, MD
Last Updated: 2/22/2019

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