Heart Wise

February is known as Heart Disease Awareness Month and it is very important for all of us to be able to recognize signs as well as symptoms of a heart attack.

Cautionary signs

Angina pectoris

Angina Pectoris, known as angina, is a syndrome characterized by pain, pressure, numbness, or heaviness that occurs on the area around the chest or behind the chest bone. This results from a disproportion between oxygen supply and demand, and is most commonly caused by the inability of coronary arteries to perfuse the heart under conditions of increased myocardial oxygen consumption. It may also occur in patients with seemingly normal coronary arteries subjected to acute or chronic increase in myocardial work, such as aortic stenosis, hypertension, or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Stable angina

Chest pain that is brought on by exertion and relieved by rest is known as stable angina; a fairly common condition affecting many people. This condition is found in people who have narrowed vessels in their heart (coronary artery disease). The chest pain is felt because the blood is having trouble circulating through the heart and therefore the supply of oxygen the heart requires is diminished. It is treated with a drug called nitroglycerin, a vasodilator to open up the cardiac vessels, thus promoting adequate circulation and meeting the heart’s oxygen demand.

Unstable angina

Chest pain that is unrelieved by rest is known as unstable angina and could be indicative of a pending acute myocardial infarction; known as a heart attack. This chest pain occurs randomly and is not brought on by exertion like stable angina. In fact it may even occur while the person is resting and/or wake up a person from sleeping. This type of angina is of great concern because it is associated with Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS).

Prinzmetal angina

Chest pain associated with irregular angina occurs as a result of transient coronary artery spasms is known as Prinzmetal angina. These spasms can occur either at rest or with exertion. Unlike stable or unstable angina, there is no plaque or fatty deposition present inside the coronary arteries and if the arteries are looked at on an angiography, the spasms are seen and the arteries appear normal in appearance.

Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS)

Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS) refers to a range of symptoms; the same symptoms associated with a heart attack (chest pain unrelieved by rest, pain in upper arms, neck or jaws, nausea and vomiting, etc.). ACS is almost always associated with rupture of an atherosclerotic plaque; resulting in partial or complete occlusion of a cardiac artery and if it is not treated emergently, a heart attack will occur.


The majority of heart attacks begin with chest pain. This pain may begin in the center of the chest and radiate to other areas of the upper body (such as arms, neck and/or jaws). There is no traditional way for chest pain to present itself. Know that everyone person is an individual. It was once thought that if one is having a heart attack the chest pain radiates to the left arm only. Now it is known that chest pain associated with a heart attack may affect the right arm as well. Along with the chest pain associated with a heart attack one may experience a crushing and/or squeezing sensation in the chest area and also become short of breath, break out in a cold sweat and experience nausea and vomiting. Also, heart attack victims often verbalize that they feel a sense of impending doom. Any of these symptoms should be recognized as an alert and emergent care is warranted!

Naturopathic practitioners

A naturopathic practitioners’ focus is to prevent a heart attack from occurring. So they concentrate on prudent heart living; consisting of lifestyle changes such as dietary, exercising, weight-loss, decreasing stress load, smoking cessation, and other natural remedies to treat heart disease.

Conventional practitioners prescribe Nitroglycerin, a powerful vasodilator to treat angina. This is one of the oldest and most frequently used drugs for treating attacks of angina. Arjuna Bark is an herb that is also a vasodilator and is used to treat angina naturally. This herb must not be taken unless your healthcare practitioner approves it for your use.

Once a heart attack begins, urgent interventions are needed. Chest pain unrelieved by rest and/or with nitroglycerin is a medical emergency. This is a condition that will require conventional interventions. There are no natural remedies that can be carried out to save someone’s life once a heart attack is in process! Therefore, if someone you know demonstrates positive signs of having a heart attack, it is imperative to call 911 first, administer an aspirin next, then administer a vasodilator (if the victim has a history of angina and has been prescribed one for treatment), be prepared to perform CPR and stay with the individual until the emergency medical personnel arrive. Administering an aspirin immediately when someone is having a heart attack prevents the formation of blood clotting; therefore increasing a heart attack victim’s survival rate more than twenty percent.

Worldwide over seven million people die yearly from coronary heart disease. It is the leading cause of death. Keep in mind that fifty percent of the deaths that occur from a heart attack happen within the 1st hour. This explains why people who survive heart attacks are the ones who receive emergent treatment immediately. There is no time to waste. You must think and act fast to sustain life.

Let’s be heart-wise everyday.