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Greening the Heart: A Plant-Based Prescription for Angina Relief

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Angina pectoris is the formal medical name for angina, which refers to chest pain. According to the American Heart Association, “Angina usually causes uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest. You may also feel discomfort in your neck, jaw, shoulder, back or arm.”

While angina is generally associated with reduced blood flow to the heart muscle, the specific cause can vary among its different presentations. There are four distinct types of angina, each with specific characteristics. Individuals experiencing symptoms of angina, regardless of its classification, are strongly advised to seek consultation with healthcare professionals for a precise diagnosis and proper management. The most effective way to initiate positive changes is through dietary modifications. The primary recommendation is to embrace a heart-healthy, plant-powered eating approach.

A 60-year-old man who experienced angina took a different path and said no to medications and invasive procedures, opting for a whole-food vegan diet. His experience echoes the previous case, with marked improvement in his condition and a notable drop in blood pressure. The authors of a case report on the gentleman highlighted the positive impact of the whole food plant-based diet, stating that it betters plasma lipids, aids in managing glycemia in type 2 diabetes sufferers, and can “profoundly improve” coronary artery disease, among other health benefits. These revelations strongly support use of a dietary approach as a primary recommendation for patients dealing with atherosclerosis, a risk factor for angina.

In an article on the NutritionFacts.org website titled “The Best Diet for Chest Pain,” renowned American physician Dr. Michael Greger (vegan) discusses the Dr. Dean Ornish program, which has been scientifically proven to reverse coronary heart disease without medication or surgery. The program demonstrated a 91% reduction in angina attacks, primarily attributed to the adoption of a plant-based diet complemented by moderate exercise and relaxation techniques to manage stress. Notably, a separate study conducted without changes to lifestyle placed angina patients on a plant-based diet alone, resulting in the same 91% reduction in angina within 24 days.

The scientific rationale behind the cardiovascular benefits of a vegan diet, specifically in regards to alleviating angina symptoms, is rooted in the avoidance of animal-people meat consumption, a primary source of cholesterol. Unlike animal-based products, including dairy, which are predominantly high in cholesterol, plant-based sources are naturally low in fat and devoid of cholesterol that contributes to arterial narrowing. Instead, plants contain compounds that actively promote smooth blood flow.
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