Chest pain is one of the most common complaints that make people visit the emergency department.
Chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart is known as angina pectoris or simply angina. People describe it as a feeling of tightness, squeezing, heaviness, burning and pressure behind the breastbone.
Other typical angina symptoms are pain in the upper central abdomen, back, neck area, jaw or shoulders as well as nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, sweating and dizziness. Women may experience these symptoms even without the chest pain or with chest discomfort.
Major risk factors for chest pain or angina are cigarette smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle and a family history of heart disease.
Due to similar symptoms, many times angina and heart attacks are mistaken for each other. The difference is that angina pain is usually not as bad as that of a heart attack and does not last longer than 5 to 10 minutes.
More often than not, it comes on during exercise and goes away when you rest. Also, it usually goes away after taking a prescription medicine, such as nitroglycerin. But one must not take angina lightly as it can be a warning sign for a future heart attack.
Angina is usually a symptom of plaque buildup in the arteries to the heart. Chest pain, however, can also be a symptom of a muscle spasm, upper respiratory infection, stomach ulcer, indigestion and bladder diseases.
To treat angina, you may need medication prescribed by a doctor. You can also use some simple home remedies to reduce the blockage in the arteries and thus help reduce the frequency of, or even eliminate, the chest pain.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for chest pain.
Garlic is one of the most effective home remedies for chest pain. According to a 2006 study published in the Journal of Nutrition, regular consumption of garlic can prevent and delay cardiovascular disease.
It can lower high cholesterol and prevent plaque buildup on the arterial walls, which in turn improves the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart.
- Add ½ teaspoon of garlic juice to a cup of hot water and drink it.
- As a preventive measure, eat 1 to 2 raw garlic cloves with water every morning on an empty stomach.
Ginger is another proven home remedy for chest pain. Gingerol, a chemical compound in ginger, helps reduce cholesterol levels. Being an antioxidant, it also protects the blood vessels from damage from cholesterol.
- When suffering from chest pain, drink a cup of ginger tea. To make the tea, add 1 tablespoon of grated ginger to a cup of hot water. Cover and steep for 5 minutes, then strain it.
- For cardiovascular health, eat a small piece of raw ginger on an empty stomach daily.
Turmeric is also recommended to treat chest pain. Its active ingredient called curcumin helps reduce cholesterol oxidation, plaque buildup and clot formation. Plus, its anti-inflammatory property helps relieve pain in the chest.
- Add ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder to a glass of milk and boil it. Add a little honey and drink it while it is still warm.
- To improve your heart health, include turmeric powder in your regular cooking or take turmeric supplements after consulting a doctor.
4. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper can provide relief from chest pain. It contains a high concentration of capsaicin, which has anti-inflammatory properties. It also works as a blood regulator to help restore blood flow to the heart.
- Add ½ or 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder to a glass of milk or any fruit juice. Drink it and soon the pain will be gone.
- You can also take cayenne as a supplement after consulting your doctor.
Basil is also a good home remedy for chest pain. The magnesium in basil promotes blood flow by aiding the heart and blood vessels to relax. Plus, the antioxidant vitamin A in basil prevents the buildup of cholesterol in the blood vessel walls.
- During chest pain, chew 8 to 10 fresh basil leaves or drink a cup of basil tea to get relief.
- To prevent chest pain and improve the condition of your heart, take 1 teaspoon of fresh basil juice along with 1 teaspoon of honey daily on an empty stomach.
Alfalfa is effective in reducing chest pain as it helps reduce cholesterol levels and plaque buildup and ensure smooth blood flow toward the heart. It has a good amount of chlorophyll that helps soften arteries and reduce the incidence of cardiac chest pain.
- Drink warm alfalfa tea when you have chest pain. To make the tea, add 1 teaspoon of dried alfalfa leaves to a cup of hot water. Steep for 5 minutes, then strain it.
- You can also take alfalfa supplements daily to reduce the occurrence of chest pain. Consult your doctor first.
According to Ayurveda, fenugreek can promote cardiovascular health and prevent angina. Its antioxidant and cardio-protective properties reduce cholesterol and promote blood flow to the heart.
- Add 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds to 1½ cups of water and boil it for 5 minutes. Strain, add 2 teaspoons of honey and drink it. Soon the pain will be gone.
- To reduce cholesterol and prevent angina, eat soaked fenugreek seeds daily. Soak 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in water overnight. The next morning, eat the soaked seeds along with the water on an empty stomach.
Almonds are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids that can reduce blood cholesterol and promote heart health. Being rich in plant sterols, fiber and magnesium, they help lower total cholesterol and prevent future angina attacks.
- Mix equal amounts of almond oil and rose oil thoroughly. Rub it gently over the chest. Soon the pain will reduce.
- To reduce your risk of angina as well as other heart diseases, eat about a handful of roasted almonds daily.
9. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
If you have a heart disease, high cholesterol or a family history of heart problems, then you need to increase your intake of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
These healthy fatty acids help lower triglycerides (fats in the blood) and prevent angina. Plus, due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, omega-3 fats have a profound effect on heart health.
- Eat 2 to 3 servings of fatty fish like mackerel, tuna, trout, herring, salmon, bluefish and sardines each week.
- Vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids are flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, soy beans, tofu, winter squash and olive oil.
- You can also take omega-3 supplements after consulting your doctor. The general dosage is 500 mg per day.
Meditation is one of the best ways to deal with chest pain. It increases blood and oxygen flow in the entire body and even slows down the heart rate. Plus, meditation relaxes you and thus reduces stress and anxiety, which can increase your risk of chest pain.
- Sit in a comfortable position and relax your body.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose.
- Breathe out slowly through your mouth.
- During this time, focus your mind on anything that makes you happy.
- Repeat until the pain is gone.
Also, do yoga and gentle stretching exercises daily to prevent angina attacks.
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth slowly when having chest pain. This will relax your body and provide more oxygen to your body.
- Drinking a glass of pomegranate juice can also help reduce pain in your chest.
- Take Coenzyme Q10 supplement after consulting a doctor to improve your heart’s energy efficiency and the supply of blood to your heart.
- Cook with extra-virgin olive oil as it boosts blood circulation in the body, making it an effective way to prevent chest pain.
- Eat slowly and in a relaxed manner as swallowing air can cause chest pain.
- Avoid extremely cold environments. Cold stimulates muscular reflexes that can cause chest pain.
- Eat well-balanced and nutritious meals rich in omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid, vitamin B12 and other nutrients.
- Avoid strenuous activities that cause chest pain and make it more acute.
- Reduce stress as it can worsen your condition. Avoid situations that make you upset or stressed.
- If you are overweight, take necessary steps to lose weight.
- Limit the amount of alcohol and coffee you drink.
- Do not smoke or use other tobacco products.
- Control your blood pressure and blood sugar level with diet and medicine.
If your symptoms get worse or do not go away within a few minutes, even after your medication, call your doctor immediately as it could be a heart attack.