Tips for Managing Your Own Angina
Obviously there are two ways of reversing these effects. The first is to bring the work being done by the heart down to the resting level, so that the blood supply within the coronary arteries can again supply enough oxygen to the muscle. That means stopping all unnecessary activity, by resting.
The second is to try to improve the circulation in the coronary arteries, so that they will allow more blood flow through them.
There are three others, less immediately obvious options. You can make the blood that is flowing through the coronary arteries carry moretpxygen. You can make the blood less viscous (less 'sticky'), so that it can flow more easily through the coronary system. And you can help to make the heart muscle itself contract more efficiently, so that it needs less oxygen to do the same amount of work.
We will take all these options one by one, showing how most people with angina can, by simple changes in their own behavior, improve their symptoms.
The first step is to get into a routine with your angina. Whenever the pain starts, wherever you are, you must stop and rest completely, and remain at rest for 30 minutes. This gives your heart time to recover from that attack. Note the attack down, how severe it was, its relationship to exercise or exertion, how long it took to subside, and how soon you restarted your activities.
From then on your aim is to try, week by week, to improve your exercise tolerance. Do keep on exercising. Walking and swimming are good dynamic exercises that will improve the efficiency of the heart - but remember to stop as soon as you detect pain or discomfort.
The next step is to do all you can to keep your coronary arteries as wide open as possible. By now you will know that smoking narrows them, so you should stop all smoking - even one a day. Avoid other people's smoke, too. In a room full of smokers, you are unwillingly smoking one whole cigarette for every 20 smoked by the others. In today's social climate, you should not feel embarrassed to ask smokers nearby to stop or go elsewhere.
Next, embark on a long-term plan to reverse your atheroma, and therefore to reverse those narrowed sites in your coronary system -or at least prevent them from narrowing further still. It is never too late to start. The advice given on changing your eating habits to reduce your cholesterol levels applies just as much to you, if you already have angina, as to anyone else. The change in eating habits* by reducing your blood fat levels, will also appreciably reduce 'stickiness'.
Stopping smoking will also help the oxygen-carrying capacity of the red blood cells and the muscles of the heart itself; 15 per cent of the red cells of a 20-a-day cigarette smoker are clogged with carbon monoxide, and so cannot convey oxygen to the heart: stopping smoking gives the oxygen supply to the heart a welcome boost, within a day of stopping.
Washing out the carbon monoxide also improves the efficiency of the heart muscle cells by a similar extent, giving the supply-demand equation a double bonus.
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