by W. Jean Rohrer
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The most important part of the circulatory system is the heart. This fistsized organ, weighing in at maybe 11 ounces, pumps more than 2000 gallons of blood through its chambers every day of your life. The heart is actually two organs. First it is mechanical; the right side pumps to the lungs to pick up oxygen, and the left side pumps to the system to nourish all the body cells and organs—including the heart itself.
The second part of the heart is an electrical system. The pump action of your heart, just like the water pump in your house, depends on electricity to make it work. Sporadic electrical activity leads to inefficient pump action. If there is no effective electrical activity in the heart, the pump doesn’t work. And without the pump, death is immediate.
Arteries carry oxygenated blood and nutrients to every cell throughout the body, and veins return the waste products. Carbon dioxide is expelled through the lungs; other toxins and waste by-products are carried to the liver or kidneys for excretion. Arteries have several layers of muscles within their walls, which control the blood pressure and volume of blood flow by constricting or dilating, thereby changing the diameter of the blood vessel.
The Lymphatic System
Because systemic blood pressure squeezes some fat globules, small protein particles and other nutrients out of the vessels, an additional system, the lymphatic system, returns these nutrients back to the blood stream. The lymphatic system figures prominently in the function of the immune system.
The Bad Guys
Hypertension or high blood pressure is the tightening of the muscles within arterial walls, which decreases the size of the pipe through which blood flows. The increase in pressure occurs in the coronary arteries, those feeding the heart muscle itself, as well as throughout the body. This increases the pressure the heart must pump against. In turn, the heart begins to enlarge; ventricular muscle grows to compensate and push harder to maintain adequate supplies of blood to the tissues.
Eventually the size of the ventricle chamber enlarges (dilates). At the point of no return, the heart can no longer compensate for the increased pressure in the pipes, and heart failure occurs. Not only does the heart itself become progressively less efficient, the entire body suffers because there is less blood available to all cells.
High levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood stream decrease the size of the pipe by sticking to the inside of the arteries, decreasing the interior diameter. Again, this cuts down the flow to the cells, and functionally increases blood pressure and work of the heart.
Smoking directly causes an increase in blood pressure. Additionally, it causes carbon monoxide to replace oxygen on the receptors of the red blood cells, so there is a direct decrease in oxygen available to cells, including the cells of the heart itself.
Attitude is not usually considered a risk factor, though it should be. Thoughts are things, as the saying goes, and thoughts change the body’s chemistry. Attitude is so important, that anger is starting to be recognized by the medical community as a bigger risk factor for heart disease than fatty foods or smoking.(1)
Additional factors that contribute to circulatory problems include obesity, heredity and emotional stress. Each additional risk factor markedly increases the probability of developing circulatory/cardiovascular diseases. And while heredity is much touted as proof one can’t improve the situation, in most cases the influence of heredity is greatly outweighed by risk factors over which we have control—life-style choices.(2)
But Medicine Can Fix That, Right?
Many people are lulled into a false sense of comfort as they read the news about improved surgical techniques to remove fat from the arteries, or bypass the blocked arteries altogether. A recent article in the Bangor Daily News (Maine), cited a study which indicated it is less costly to treat atherosclerotic heart disease surgically with bypass or coronary angioplasty than by prevention! This is alarming not only because it indicates the financial focus of allopathic medical care, but also because it encourages people to give up responsibility for their own health, continue their selfdestructive life-styles, and then run to the medical community to fix them. But medicine doesn’t provide a simple cure-all.
Coronary heart disease is the number one cause of death in Americans.
While premenopausal women enjoy some protection due to estrogen production, at age 55, their risk is equal to that of a 65 year old man. By age 75, both sexes have equal chance of having a heart attack. (3)
More than one million Americans have heart attacks each year, and about one third survive. Most of these will go on to have a second or third or fourth, despite all the allopathic drugs employed. Some of those survivors will have bypasses; many will try angioplasty.
From personal experience in units which recovered angioplasty patients, I can tell you the incidence of reocclusion is greater than 70%. Nearly 50% of patients experience reocclusion within the first few months. (4)
Some patients I cared for had 7 or 8 angioplasties—frequently of the same blood vessel. Each time this procedure is done, the wall of the blood vessel is weakened. The fat that was blocking the artery is pushed (using a highpressure balloon) into the lining of the blood vessel, frequently tearing that lining, possibly causing the vessel to rupture, and this necessitates emergency bypass surgery.
The incidence of mortality from bypass surgery is about 35%. That’s just death. It doesn’t include strokes, infections or permanent disability due to leg swelling that never gets resolved. Worse, the average bypass graft only stays open for 5 years. The unit I worked in saw lots of people back for rebypass, an all-too-common occurrence, according to my colleagues in other areas of the country. Here, the disease process continues because the cause hasn’t been addressed and removed or ameliorated.
Is There A Better Way?
While no known treatment works 100% for every person, there are some useful basics that anyone can try.
First, drink pure water
The majority of blood volume is water. Dehydration makes your blood thick and sludgy, which increases the chances of clogging in an artery.
Second, exercise regularly
This improves the tone of the whole body, enables the heart to increase its ability to cope with stress, and gives you a physical outlet for frustration and anger. The American Heart Association recommends 20 minutes of aerobic exercises three times a week.(5)
By making your heart rate increase and stay elevated for certain periods of time, the heart becomes better able to handle crises. Like any other muscle, heart muscle fibers grow and strengthen when exercised.
Third, change your attitude
More and more research into heart disease indicates that those who are either Type A (high stress) or very angry are much more prone to heart attacks. In my own practice I rarely met a type B personality. Rather, the vast majority of those for whom I cared demonstrated behavior indicating deep-seated anger. Hatred is truly deadly.
Laughter, meditation, walking in the woods, using breathing exercises—all can help change the way you perceive the world, and therefore, how your body reacts. By changing how you think, according to Dr. Christine Northrup, you are “changing your hormones, your neurotransmitters, and your immune system. You’re healing yourself from the inside out.”(6)
Stress management is inextricably linked to changing your attitude. If a stimulus can’t push your buttons, it’s not a stressor. While many sources of stress are controllable or removable, there are still those which continue to affect us. The choice, then, is either to control and change our response to the stimulus, or resign ourselves to feeling constantly frazzled and depleted of energy.
Good nutrition is finally being recognized as a pillar supporting heart health. One would have to live on another planet not to have heard the lowfat, low-salt, no red meat litany that is chanted in our ears 24 hours a day. But good nutrition is far more than limitation. It is also supplementation, either by actively seeking the foods high in certain essential nutrients, or through supplements to the diet such as herbs, vitamins, and other nutrients.
Antioxidants, of course, lead the list: beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, and grapine, which is touted for virtually every major problem, but proven to have whopping antioxidant properties.
Ginkgo biloba, both alone and combined with hawthorne berries, is used in many cultures to support the circulatory system.(7)
Coenzyme Q10 is useful in improving symptoms of congestive heart failure and irregular heart beat. This nutrient has been the subject of international conferences, where its value in cardiovascular disease, hypertensive heart disease, and cardiomyopathy has been discussed.
Some physicians recommend its use prophylactically.(8) Dr. Cheryl Brown-Christopher, writing in Journal of Longevity Research, recommends capsicum, good old cayenne pepper, for reducing cholesterol, increasing circulation, and possibly preventing atherosclerosis. She also recommends magnesium for its blood-pressure lowering ability and antiarrhythmic properties.
Is It Worth the Effort?
It has been said that Americans would rather die than exercise or change their life-styles. But the major result of poor habits and malnutrition isn’t death, but rather, lingering, chronic, painful disability. Illness is very costly, not least of all financially, but also in terms of personal pain and lack of mobility, individual loss of work and societal loss of workers, changes in family dynamics, and burdens on governmental and voluntary agencies. If you want to create odds of a better quality life for a longer period, then you will (or possibly already have) employ whatever measures seem right for you to reach that goal. Good health, long life and prosperity to you all.
OVERALL INDICATIONS FOR NUTRITIONAL AID TO THE HEART AND CIRCULATORY SYSTEM SYMPTOMS AND POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS CAN BE FOUND HERE
Cold Hands and Feet
Wounds will not heal in extremities
Medical diagnosis of hardening of the arteries
Medical diagnosis of Heart problems
Blood pressure problems
1 Dr. Christine Northrup, Modern Doctor (Potomac, Maryland: Phillips Publishing Inc., 1997), p. 8.
2 Dr. Weed’s A Better Way Newsletter, (http://www.1stnet.net/~drweed/ heart.htm).
3 Women’s Health (http://www/womens-health.com/hra_1.html).
4 Southwestern Medical Center, Angioplasty and Restenosis, (http:// www.swmed.edu/home_pages/library/consumer/angio.htm), 1995.
5 Dr. Weed’s A Better Way Newsletter, (http://www.1stnet.net/~drweed/ heart.htm).
6 Dr. Christine Northrup, Modern Doctor (Potomac, Maryland: Phillips Publishing Inc., 1997), p. 9.
7 Gingko and Hawthorn Handout by Nature’s Sunshine Products.
8 Dr. Julian Whitaker, Dr. Julian Whitaker’s HEALTH & HEALING, 1996, pp. 6-8.
This information is for educational purposes only. Consult with a qualified health practictioner for all serious or persistant illness. Copyright © 2000 by Robinson & Horne, L.C., P.O. Box 1028, Roosevelt, UT 84066. This material may be duplicated for educational purposes only (not for resale)
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