Take a swim. If walking hurts because you have arthritis, or you’re overweight, try swimming or water aerobics. The buoyancy of the water takes pressure off your joints and makes you essentially weightless.
Swimming and water exercise are really outstanding forms of exercise for your cardiovascular system. They’re fun too. Most YMCAs and community swim programs offer some type of water aerobics and swimming classes for older adults. Be sure to contact a physician for clearance to participate before starting a new exercise program.
Relax and chill out. Any way you can, you should reduce stress in your life. Take up yoga, go for a walk, pray, smell the flowers, try biofeedback, sew a quilt or take up another relaxing hobby, use guided imagery and self-hypnosis, or practice progressive relaxation techniques, in which you tense and relax various muscle groups in your body. What exactly relieves stress is really very individual. Do what works for you.
Stress directly influences angina discomfort. When you’re really stressed, your body releases catecholamines, substances that increase, among other things, the rate and force of your heart’s pumping. Catecholamines also constrict blood vessels, which is the last thing you need to happen when your heart is pumping harder and demanding more blood and oxygen.
Immediately, you have a supply and demand mismatch. Your heart needs more blood, but the flow is reduced because the stress is increasing vessel constriction. That’s why mental stress all by itself may bring on an angina attack or make it more likely to occur.
Take hawthorn. Herbalists and naturopathic doctors often tell their patients with angina to take hawthorn, a herb long used as a heart tonic. Hawthorn won’t reverse atherosclerosis, a form of arteriosclerosis, but it may improve the overall functioning of the heart and make it more efficient. Hawthorn also dilates coronary arteries.
Hawthorn, however, isn’t one of those herbs that immediately make you feel better when you pop it into your mouth. Its therapeutic effects take time to develop, usually over a period of weeks or months.
Hawthorn, comes in several forms: liquid, capsules, tea bags, and a concentrated extract that resembles a tarlike syrup. It’s available in most health food stores and drugstores. If you have a cardiovascular condition, do not take hawthorn regularly for more than a few weeks without medical supervision. You may require lower doses of other medications, such as high blood pressure drugs. If you have low blood pressure caused by heart valve problems, do not use hawthorn without medical supervision. Be sure to follow the instructions on the product label.