• Pain resembling a tight band around the chest that can spread up into the neck and jaw and down into an arm, usually the left arm.
• Symptoms associated with exercise, especially after eating, stress, and during very hot or cold weather.
• Possible dizziness, palpitations, nausea, cold sweats, breathlessness, and cold extremities.
• Symptoms wear off after rest.
The direct cause of angina is not enough oxygen reaching the heart. This may be because arteries supplying the heart have been damaged by a disease such as atherosclerosis (arteries narrowed by fatty deposits), or because of high blood pressure, malfunctioning heart valves, anemia, or disturbed heart rhythms. Angina may also be caused by spasms in blood vessels. A less common cause is overproduction of hormones (by the thyroid gland) that makes the heart race.
Conventional care
Angina may be diagnosed by measuring electrical activity in the heart while the patient is on a treadmill, or by X-raying altered blood vessels injected with a highlighting substance (a practice known as coronary angiography). Conventional treatment is with drugs that improve circulation, such as glyceryl trinitrate, beta blockers, or calcium channel blockers. Surgery may be necessary. Angioplasty is the insertion and inflation of a balloon in a blocked vessel to widen it. Coronary artery bypass entails placing a section of vein—from a leg, for example—in the heart to bypass a blocked vein.
Homeopathic medicine
A full case history is studied along with the results of explorative tests. Particular attention is paid to triggers of angina and location of the pain. There are two aspects of homeopathic treatment: constitutional treatment aims to relieve pressure in the heart long-term, while acute remedies are prescribed for attacks. Although specific symptoms ultimately determine the choice of constitutional remedy , those that have an affinity with the circulatory system include Apis, effective for fluid retention; Argent. nit., associated with improved nerve conduction to coronary arteries; Arnica, if there is damaged heart muscle—after a heart attack for example; Arsen. alb., for problems in the left side of the heart; and Aurum, for atherosclerosis, other arterial diseases, and valve problems.
Acute remedies include Cactus grand., if the chest feels as though there is an iron band around it, and if there are breathing difficulties, cold sweats, pain in the left arm, and falling blood pressure; and Lilium, when the chest feels as though it is in a vise, and there are palpitations and pain in the right arm. Latrodectus mac. is used for serious chest pains, rapid pulse, and numb fingers; and Spigelia is given for palpitations with a thirst for hot water and breathing difficulties relieved by lying on the right.
Angina sufferers are advised to lose weight and work out a diet for life, with plenty of oily fish, garlic, and brewer’s yeast, but little animal fat, refined carbohydrates, salt, caffeine, and alcohol. Antioxidant and fish-oil supplements may help; as may the use of fresh ginger in cooking. Smoking is not advisable. Relaxation techniques or meditation and regular exercise are advisable. Any conventional drugs should be reviewed with a doctor.
Ella, a 35-year-old lawyer and mother of two children, had experienced high blood pressure and severe angina since she was 14. (Her mother had died of a stroke at 46.) Ella’s drugs included a glyceryl trinitrate spray for the pain and a diuretic to lower her blood pressure. She had had a mild heart attack the year before her consultation and a stroke three years before that. She suffered severe angina about three times a year, preceded by extreme fatigue. She often had less serious attacks, brought on by tiredness and stress.
Ella was a vivacious woman but confessed to being depressed at times about her condition, fearing that it would kill her. She was tearful and easily frightened, sometimes waking up with a great feeling of foreboding and anxiety.
Frequent nausea and a throbbing feeling in the stomach often resulted in a loss of appetite. At such times Ella would lose her taste for meat, which she usually liked. She often experienced a bitter-tasting fluid rising into her mouth, making all food taste acrid.
Ella was worse when lying on her left side and on her back. She experienced low times at 11 a.m. and 11 p.m., and she had difficulty sleeping because of throbbing in various parts of her body and disturbing dreams. She liked to be out in the open air.
No attempt was made to change Ella’s conventional drugs in view of her medical history. A satisfactory constitutional remedy was never found, but the chest pains were able to be controlled and eventually eliminated by regular and as required use of Cactus grand. This also resulted in a much reduced use of her spray. Ella eventually stopped having severe attacks altogether. Two years after commencing homeopathic treatment, she felt able to undertake a third pregnancy, and eventually gave birth to a healthy boy. She remains well unless she becomes very overtired.

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