Numerous disorders fall under the broad category of heart and vascular disease. Here, discussion is restricted to arteriosclerosis, angina, and heart attack.
Arteries transport blood from the heart and deliver it to other parts of the body. Arteriosclerosis occurs when the inside of the artery wall thickens, leaving a narrower passageway for the blood to travel through. This disorder is often called hardening of the arteries. Arteriosclerosis can effect the coronary arteries-the arteries that lead to the heart-and is usually caused by the buildup of fatty deposits within the arterial walls. This buildup is often the result of poor diet, one that is high in bad fats and low in fiber. Most people who have arteriosclerosis are not aware of it, as it does not trigger symptoms in the body until later in the disease.
Unfortunately, when arteriosclerosis is left untreated, it just gets worse. Without treatment, the arteries will eventually become so constricted that adequate supplies of oxygenated blood can't reach the heart muscle. This oxygen deprivation may result in the chest pain known as angina. Angina is often a precursor to a heart attack.
In some ways, people with angina are lucky. Their pain usually leads to a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, and they can then take several steps to slow or reverse their condition before it results in a trip to the emergency room or even death. But for many, a heart attack is the first outward sign of trouble; 25 percent of people who suffer heart attacks have never felt any previous symptoms. A heart attack-or myocardial infraction, as it's called by doctors-is brought on when blood flow to a section of the heart muscle is completely cut off, either because a clot has backed up behind a thickened artery, or because the artery itself has become so narrow that no blood at all can pass through. If you ever suspect that you are having a heart attack, you must receive emergency medical care at once. Instead of having someone drive you to a hospital (unless you are real close), call for an ambulance. Life-saving treatment for heart attacks requires special medical techniques and tools, the sooner professionals arrive with their equipment, the greater your chance of survival.
Heart disease is so prevalent now; most people are surprised to hear that it was actually quite rare until the turn of the twentieth century. Our modern diet and way of life are at the root of most heart problems, and the best way to prevent or reverse heart disease is to change our habits. Because heart disease is caused by a variety of factors, it is best to include several kinds of therapies in your treatment or prevention plan. Eat well, exercise, manage stress, and identify and treat genetic susceptibilities that are known to bring on cardiovascular disease.
** All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; level of effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when taking any and all supplements.
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Super Prescription #1 Multivitamin – High Potency – LifeSource Products - See All of our Multivitamin Products. Take as directed on the container. It provides a base of many nutrients and antioxidants that promote cardiovascular health. This vitamin is unmatched, check the label and see. Liquid or tablet!
Super Prescription # 2 Garlic - LifeSource Product Take 2,500 mg of aged garlic twice daily. It reduces cholesterol and homocysteine, has a natural blood-thinning effect, and has antioxidant properties.
Super Prescription #3 CoQ10 – Coenzyme Q10 - LifeSource Products - See All of our CoQ10 Products. Take 100 to 300 mg daily. This nutrient is used by the heart cells to pump efficiently and with regular rhythm. Studies show that it lowers blood pressure and helps improve angina, mitral valve prolapse, and congestive heart failure. It also prevents oxidation of LDL cholesterol.
Super Prescription #4 Omega 3 - LifeSource Products - See All of our Omega 3 – Fish Oil Products. Take a daily doses of a fish oil product daily. Fish oil reduces inflammation in the arteries, lowers cholesterol/triglycerides, and is a natural blood thinner.
Super Prescription #5 Policosanol - LifeSource Product Take 10 to 20 mg each evening. This supplement reduces LDL cholesterol and lipoprotein(a), improves HDL cholesterol, and helps angina
Super Prescription #6 Hawthorne Berry - LifeSource ProductsTake 600 to 900 mg daily. It improves circulation to the heart and reduces blood pressure.
Super Prescription #7 Magnesium Citrate - LifeSource Product Take 500 mg daily. The heart, to produce energy for contraction and regular rhythm, uses this mineral. It also relaxes the blood vessel walls, for improved circulation and reduced blood pressure.
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In recent years, researchers have found that chronic inflammation in the blood vessels is a central factor in the development of heart disease. This chronic inflammation leads to arterial wall damage and the resulting plaque formation. Although cholesterol levels have some importance, it appears that this substance is not the "villain" that it was once thought to be. While diet and lifestyle factors are root causes of chronic inflammation, there are also genetic reasons beyond inheriting a disposition to high cholesterol levels. They include one's levels of homocysteine and lipoprotein(a) and other heredity factors. Fortunately, these genetic susceptibilities can be reduced through natural therapies. Stealth or hidden infections in the body are also suspected in increasing the inflammatory response. Therefore, it is imperative you are tested for these newer, more predictive markers of heart disease.
Finally, the impact of stress and negative emotions cannot be underrated as a cause of heart disease, in addition to the physical causes.
Symptoms of Arteriosclerosis
There are usually no overt symptoms until later in the disease. See your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Leg pain that stats after walking a short distance and that goes away with rest
Symptoms of Angina
- Mild to sever chest pain. Often, it feels like the heart is being squeezed.
- There is tightness in the chest.
- Pain may feel worse after exercise or a heavy meal and better when resting
Symptoms of a heart attack
If you have any of the following symptoms, call 911 immediately. Even if the symptoms pass, you need emergency medical attention.
- The classical symptoms are crushing or tight pain in the chest, which may extend to the arms, the back, the shoulders, the neck, or the jaw. The pain may be intense and severe, or it could be mild that you might mistake it for indigestion.
- Women sometimes have heart attack symptoms that are different from the previous ones. The pain may begin in the stomach or the jaw with stabbing pains between the breasts. The symptoms may be more vague than for men.
- Or possible symptoms include profuse sweating, a drop in blood pressure, difficulty swallowing, dizziness or faintness, ringing in the ears, or, more rarely, nausea and vomiting
- Poor diet, especially one that's high in saturated fat and low in fiber and antioxidants
- High blood pressure
- Stress, depression, and anxiety
- Diabetes and syndrome X
- Stealth infections
- Excess of toxic metals
Please consult your Doctor before taking any supplements.
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When most people think of diets to prevent or reverse heart disease, they think of reducing cholesterol and fat. In reality, many factors must be taken into account, such as an adequate intake of "good" fats, fiber, and antioxidants. A heart-healthy diet is much like the basic wholesome eating plan suggested for everyone.
A whole-food, plant-based diet (with the addition of fish) has been shown to sweep away arterial plaque. You meals should emphasize vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, with soy products, beans, and fish for protein. People who require a higher protein diet can add more lean poultry to their menu.
Highly reactive molecules known as free radicals are closely linked to hart disease. Foods that contain antioxidants will prevent damage caused by free radicals, so eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables every day.
Essential fatty acids are "good" fats that actually protect the heart and help the rest of the body function smoothly. Essential fatty acids are found in cold-water fish like halibut, salmon, and mackerel; raw nuts (excluding peanuts); olive oil; and flaxseeds.
Eat lots of fiber. A whole-foods diet will automatically increase your fiber intake, but if you need more, include oat bran or flaxseeds with your meals.
Garlic and onions reduce levels of bad cholesterol and lower blood pressure. They make excellent additions to low-fat meals, like vegetable stir-fries, clear soups, and bean dishes.
The skins of red or purple grapes help clear the arteries of plaque. Have a glass of purple juice daily.
Potassium or magnesium are heart-protective minerals. Good sources include green vegetables, whole grains, wheat germ, soybeans, garlic, legumes, bok choy, and potatoes. Sea salt is another good choice.
Follow the Mediterranean diet: the consumption of plant foods; olive oil; and low to moderate amounts of fish, poultry, meat, dairy, eggs and wine. Researchers believe that the consumption of fish is one of the keys to this heart-healthy diet, which results in a lower incidence of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
Foods to Avoid
If you have heart disease, you must eliminate or drastically reduce your consumption of harmful fats (saturated fat, trans-fatty acids, or hydrogenated fats). Common sources of saturated fat or cholesterol include meat, poultry, dairy products, butter, eggs, palm oil, and coconut oils. Don't forget that many foods are made with these ingredients. Sweet baked goods, for instance, are likely to contain eggs and butter, as well as other fats and oils.
Don't make the mistake of substituting margarine or vegetable shortening for butter. These products are made with oils that have been artificially processed under high heat. This processing creates mutated molecules, called trans-fatty acids, which are most likely even worse for your heart and cholesterol levels than saturated fats are.
People who cut down on fat sometimes end up gorging themselves on non- and low-fat processed foods, especially packaged cookies and other sweets. Avoid this trap. These foods have little or no nutritional content, and they rely on sugar to make up for the presence of fat. Excess sugar is tied to a number of health problems, and when used as a replacement for starch, it reduces the level of good, heart-protecting cholesterol.
Avoid simple sugars. Simple sugars cause elevated levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, C-reactive protein, insulin, and other markers that contribute to cardiovascular damage.
Radically reduce your consumption of sodium. Packaged and processed foods are by far the highest source of sodium in the Western diet, so stay away from them. A high sodium intake, combined with low potassium intake, increases your likelihood of having high blood pressure.
General Stress-Reduction Therapies
Conventional medicine is finally beginning to accept that stress is a primary factor in heart disease. If you have heart disease, you must take several steps to reduce the amount of stress in your life. Dr. Dean Ornish has produced remarkable results by putting his patients on a program of yoga and daily meditation. He's found that even the most resistant of patients have eventually come to enjoy and look forward to these relaxing sessions.
Consider joining a support group for people with heart disease. Again Dr. Ornish's work shows that when people can talk out their worries and frustrations with others who share some of their experiences, stress levels decline dramatically, along with the risk of a heart attack (or a repeat heart attack).
- Quit smoking, and eliminate your exposure to secondhand smoke. Tobacco smoke is known to weaken artery walls and is one of the leading causes of heart disease.
- Exercise is a crucial component of heart fitness, but you don't nee to force yourself into a punishing regimen. Just enjoy a brisk thirty-minute walk daily; move quickly enough that you're breathing hard but not so fast that you can't carry on a conversation. If you have heart disease, see a doctor before beginning any exercise program.
- If you're a heart-disease patient and have been told to lose weight, the dietary suggestions given here should help you take off the pounds safely.
- Women who smoke or who are over thirty-five should not take oral contraceptives or synthetic hormone replacements. This is particularly true if they are over thirty-five and smoke.