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Angina Print E-mail
by Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa, CA

Dr. Kennedy Angina is a temporary pain or discomfort in the chest. It is described as a pressure, tightness or heaviness across the chest and happens when the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the heart is not adequate to meet the metabolic demands of the heart muscle.

The heart is an active pump with its own blood supply. The coronary arteries are the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. These arteries can become clogged with fatty deposits called plaques.

Heart disease usually progresses silently for many years before finally causing a problem such as angina or a heart attack. Certain factors place an individual more at risk. These are:

  1. Cigarette smoking.
  2. High blood pressure
  3. Excess weight
  4. High blood: LDL cholesterol, homocysteine, fibrinogen and lipoprotein(a) levels
  5. Diabetes
  6. A stressful lifestyle

Both men and women can and do have angina and heart attacks. Before menopause, women have some protection from estrogen, after menopause, when estrogen levels drop, women catch up rapidly to men. The risk factors mentioned above apply equally to men and women.

Having angina is not necessarily having a heart attack. Angina is pain. A heart attack involves the loss of blood supply to heart muscle with subsequent death of muscle tissue. People with angina are more likely to have a heart attack than those without angina. Angina is a signal of decreased blood supply to heart muscle. When angina occurs at least 75% of the affected vessel is blocked. This is why it is so important to pay attention to any new symptoms of chest discomfort.

Angina is frequently described as a tightness, heaviness or pressure in the chest. Occasionally the discomfort is not felt in the chest, but in the shoulders, arms or lower jaw. It may be mistakenly thought to be "indigestion," "gas," bursitis of the shoulder, and even toothache! The symptoms may appear during exertion and resolve after a few minutes rest. If you, or someone you know is having symptoms like this, seek medical help immediately. If caught at this stage, there will be no permanent damage and a life-threatening heart attack can be avoided.

If you have angina, you are receiving a warning. One-half of people who die from heart attack experience no angina. In fact, for them, the first sign of heart disease is sudden death. If you have angina you should seek medical help immediately.

There are several choices for dealing with angina. Surgical procedures exist to force clogged arteries open with a balloon (angioplasty) or with a device called a stint (an experimental but commonly used device). These procedures run the risk of rupturing the artery and necessitating emergency open heart surgery to try to repair the damage before death. About 2% of people who have these procedures die from them. These types of procedures cost around $35,000.

Another choice is to have a bypass operation in which a vein is taken from your leg and transplanted to your heart forcing the vein (which is about 1/3 the strength as an artery) to function as an artery. About 5% of people who undergo this procedure die on the operating table from the procedure itself. Of those who do not die, the average duration before the vein is clogged up and another bypass operation is necessary is about two years. Bypass surgery costs around $70,000.

Vascular disease is almost always a generalized condition affecting many of the vessels throughout the body. Angioplasty, stint, and bypass procedures treat one artery or a small group of arteries and do nothing for the rest of the arterial tree.

Another choice is to have medical management alone using drugs. Large scale studies of hundreds of thousands of people have shown that the risk of dying in any given year after therapy is begun, is the same with surgical management or with medical management. I other words, surgical and other invasive procedures have never been proven to be effective therapies in heart disease. Neverheless, if you go to an emergency room with angina, you are likely to be confronted with the bypass surgeon telling you that you you have to have a $70,000 bypass by Friday or you will surely die.

Chelation Therapy, lifestyle change, and nutritional medicine is the third choice. Many doctors believe, based on years of experience with hundreds of thousands of patients, that intravenous Chelation Therapy is a viable and usually superior alternative to surgical or medical management. This approach aims to reduce plaque formation throughout the body, not just in three or four arteries in the heart. Thus the risk of future stroke is diminished at the same time.

The approach used in homeopathy is to attempt to restore the balance of the system using dilute solutions of natural substances specific to the disorder.



The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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