If you’ve ever had heart pain, then you know it’s concerning. Heart burn, or discomfort near the heart that’s perceived as heart pain, has many potential causes. It may be sharp, burning, or feel like chest pressure. Whatever the cause, when heart pain strikes, you want it to go away quickly.
Call your local emergency services if:
- you think you’re having a heart attack
- you’re experiencing crushing pain
- you’re experiencing shortness of breath
After calling your local emergency services, unlock any doors or barriers that may prevent help from reaching you and sit down until help arrives.
How to treat heart pain right now
Home remedies are meant to manage infrequent chest pain caused by digestive issues or muscle strain. True heart pain may be caused by angina, a serious condition that occurs when blood flow is reduced to your heart. If you’re experiencing heart pain and you’ve been diagnosed with angina, take any prescription medications as instructed by your doctor.
Home remedies for rapid relief of chest pain caused by digestive problems or muscle strain include:
When heart pain occurs after eating, acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may be to blame. Both conditions may cause intense chest pain. Many people claim that eating a handful of almonds or drinking almond milk when heartburn strikes eases symptoms.
The evidence is anecdotal and there’s not enough scientific data to support this claim. Almonds are an alkaline food and in theory, they may help to soothe and neutralize acid in the esophagus.
On the other hand, almonds are high in fat. For some people, fat triggers acid reflux. Fatty foods may cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax and allow acid to flow backwards into the esophagus.
Apple cider vinegar
Drinking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water before meals or when heart pain strikes is another home remedy for acid reflux. There’s little scientific evidence to show that apple cider vinegar eases heartburn. Still, many people swear it works.
Some people experience acid reflux because their stomach doesn’t produce enough acid. In this case, apple cider vinegar may help by increasing the amount of acid in the stomach. The compound that gives apple cider vinegar its tang is acetic acid. It may help break down food and support digestion.
Apple cider vinegar doesn’t cause side effects in most people. However, it may thin your blood and should be used with caution if you take blood thinners.
Drinking a hot drink
Gas is a common cause of chest pain. A hot or warm drink may help rev up your digestive system and ease gas and bloating. Hot hibiscus tea, in particular, supports digestion and heart health. Research shows hibiscus helps lower blood pressure and reduces cholesterol and triglycerides. Hibiscus is generally recognized as safe to consume.
Apply a cold pack
Heart pain is sometimes caused by chest muscle strain. Weightlifting, a fall, or even carrying a child or a heavy laundry basket may all be culprits. Costochondritis, which is an inflammation of the chest wall, is often the source of severe chest pain. Applying a cold pack several times a day to the affected area may help reduce inflammation and ease pain.
When to call emergency service
Home remedies shouldn’t be used as a first-line treatment for chest pain. Any chest pain that’s unusual for you should be medically evaluated.
If you experience persistent chest pain with or without other symptoms — such as nausea, shortness of breath, and sweating — call emergency services immediately. You may be having a heart attack.
Heart attack symptoms may escalate quickly. You should wait for an ambulance to arrive or, in some situations, meet you en route. Emergency services personnel are trained and equipped to handle worsening medical situations that may happen en route to the hospital.
Home remedies to promote overall heart health
Some home remedies don’t bring rapid relief of heart pain, but work to improve your heart health over the long term. Lifestyle factors such as a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, and not smoking are well-known remedies for improving heart health.
Several supplements can also help keep your heart healthy and strong. The quality of supplements varies, so only buy them from reputable manufacturers. Follow dosage instructions on the bottle to limit your risk of side effects. Supplements include the following:
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids may help:
- reduce your risk of deadly heart arrhythmias
- reduce your triglyceride levels
- reduce the progression of atherosclerosis
- lower your blood pressure
Omega-3s are found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and albacore tuna. If you’re unable to eat two servings of fish per week, you can take fish oil supplements high in omega-3s.
Adding pomegranate juice to your diet may be beneficial to your heart. Pomegranates are high in antioxidants, which can help keep cholesterol in check and keep your arteries healthy.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, research shows pomegranate juice may help decrease “bad” cholesterol (LDL) in your blood. It may also help prevent or reduce plaque build-up in your arteries, which can cause reduced blood flow to your heart.
At least one study has found that drinking pomegranate juice helps lower blood pressure.
Capsaicin is the chemical responsible for giving peppers their spicy kick.
According to a 2015 study, capsaicin may have a wide range of benefits that help protect the heart by:
- increasing exercise time in people with angina (when applied topically)
- slowing the development of atherosclerosis
- reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome
- lowering blood pressure
- controlling blood sugar
- reducing the risk of heart muscle thickening
- supporting weight loss
Many studies on capsaicin were done on rodents. More human trials are needed.
In the meantime, current research suggests taking around 20 milligrams (mg) of capsaicin capsules daily and supplementing your diet with spicy foods and hot sauce. Keep in mind that for some people, eating spicy foods may cause digestive problems.
Both fresh garlic and garlic supplements have been used for years to battle heart problems. Research has shown garlic extract may help prevent plaque build-up in the arteries and even reverse heart disease.
The downside? Like fresh garlic, some garlic supplements leave your breath smelling less than fresh. If you can’t get past the smell, look for odor-free garlic capsules.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a substance your body makes naturally and is critical to heart health. As you age, your body makes less CoQ10. Low levels of CoQ10 in the body have been linked to chronic heart failure. CoQ10 may also help lower blood pressure and prevent exercise-induced chest pain.
Spicy ginger is thought to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant abilities.
It may help:
- lower blood pressure
- reduce cholesterol
- reduce triglycerides
- prevent blood clotting
Ginger is known for soothing your tummy and reducing gas. It’s also a natural blood thinner, so avoid using it if you take prescription blood thinners.
According to a 2013 review of clinical trials, curcumin, the compound that gives turmeric its golden color, may help reduce inflammation that leads to heart disease. It may also reduce total cholesterol and bad cholesterol in the body while increasing good cholesterol. This can help prevent atherosclerosis.
Alfalfa sprouts aren’t well-studied for heart health. Still, many people claim alfalfa is a magic bullet for lowering cholesterol. One study found the saponins in alfalfa extract reduced cholesterol and prevented the leaking of liver enzymes in diabetic rats.
Holy basil is a popular Ayurvedic herb. It’s mainly used to battle stress and to prevent stress-related illnesses. It’s also used to reduce cholesterol. Chronic stress may increase cholesterol and blood pressure. Stress may also increase the risk of heart disease if you cope with stress in unhealthy ways, such as overeating or smoking.
The bottom line
Everyone experiences pain around the heart now and then. Heart pain is usually due to digestive problems or overtaxed muscles, but sometimes it can be caused by a more serious condition.
Because it’s difficult to distinguish between a heart attack or angina and bad gas, you should always take heart pain seriously.
Once you know what’s normal pain for you, and your doctor has ruled out a potential heart problem, give home remedies a try.
Although some home remedies aren’t well-studied, most are gentle and unlikely to cause side effects. Combining home remedies with a heart-healthy lifestyle may help bring pain relief and maintain heart health.