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(Article) Prevention of Chest Pain

Chest Pain, Angina—Much Can be Done with Prevention

Zhang Yue Jian, Senior Physician


TCM achieves outstanding clinical success in chronic heart disease prevention and post-myocardial infarction management. Two basic rules in treating cardiac patients are 1) correct the cause by nourishing the body and 2) correct the symptoms by eliminating risk factors.


  1. Strengthen Weak Constitution

(1)  Fatigue and shortness of breathe: Nourish the “Lung System”

Typical presentation of effort angina (stable angina) is chest discomfort precipitated by physical activity. The mechanism is similar to intermittent claudication—poor circulation of blood to the affected area.


TCM theory suggests that the respiratory organ, or the lungs, is also in charge of the entire body’s vital energy. When this system is underactive, not only does it cause respiratory difficulty and chest pain, but also vital energy deficiency and poor blood circulation. Herbal formula “ShengMai Yin” or single herb RenShen (Radix Ginseng) may be appropriate.              


(2)  Anxiety and Sleep Disturbance: Nourish the Cardiovascular System

Common signs and symptoms include palpitation, agitation, insomnia, frequent dreaming, pale lips and pale complexion. Herbal formula “GuiPi Tang” and single herb DangGui (Radxi Angelicae Sinensis) improve blood circulation and cardiovascular health.


(3)  Postmenopausal Women: Nourish the “Kidney System”

Some common symptoms are hot flashes, vertigo, chest pain, palpitation, night sweats, tinnitus, back pain and knee pain.


  1. Tackle Underlying Risk Factors

(1)  Eliminate Abnormal Metabolic Waste

Coronary heart disease is associated with overeating and diet high in cholesterol and overall fat contents. The high fat intake and excessive calories cause plaque to deposit on arterial walls and limit blood flow to the heart muscles. People with metabolic syndrome are often overweight, frequently dizzy and have elevated blood lipid levels. Herbal medicine that supports the digestive system can improve systemic metabolism, help eliminating abnormal metabolites and lower blood lipid levels. 


(2)   Improve Circulation

TCM theory suggests that early stage of poor circulation is commonly due to Qi (vital energy) immobilization, metabolic waste accumulation and cold constitution. Stagnation of blood flow can result in thrombosis (blood clot). If a thrombus breaks loose, it may obstruct the coronary artery and cause ischemia of heart tissues. Clinically, it often presents as chest tightness and chest pain (typically stabbing pain). Herbal medicine is able to effectively improve blood circulation and reduce blood viscosity.