The exact cause of atherosclerosis is unknown; however there are a number of risk factors like family history of coronary heart disease, high plasma LDL ( low density lipoprotein), low plasma HDL ( high density lipoprotein), cigarette smoking, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, poor nutrition, especially too much fat in the diet, overweight, type A personality
Heart disease is one of the biggest killers; in many countries all over the world it is the leading cause of death among both sexes and every year billions are spent for its treatment and prevention. Ischemia refers to a lack of oxygen due to improper perfusion that creates an imbalance between the oxygen supply insured by the bloodstream through the coronary arteries and the demand of the heart.
The most common cause of myocardial ischemia is atherosclerotic disease of the coronary arteries, but coronary blood flow can also be limited by arterial thrombi, spasm, congenital diseases or severe ventricular hypertrophy. Atherosclerosis is a degenerative disease characterized by thickening of the inner lining of the arterial walls caused by deposits of fatty material. This partially blocks the artery, causing the formation of a blood clot behind. The exact cause of atherosclerosis is unknown; however there are a number of risk factors like family history of coronary heart disease, high plasma LDL ( low density lipoprotein), low plasma HDL ( high density lipoprotein), cigarette smoking, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, poor nutrition, especially too much fat in the diet, overweight, type A personality
It was proven that by reducing risk factors coronary heart disease can be prevented and its progression and complications can be delayed after the manifestation of the disease. Treatment of lipid abnormalities has been shown to delay the progress of atherosclerosis and in some cases has even produced regression of the atherosclerotic plaques.
In the early stages there are no symptoms of the disease but in later stages angina pectoris is present. Angina is chest pain caused by the narrowing of arteries and it is felt like burning, squeezing, heaviness or tightness in the chest that may extend to the left arm, hand, neck, jaw or shoulder.
Western traditional therapies describe herbs that were proven to be very effective on reducing the symptoms and even the arterial lesions in ischemic cardiac diseases, but they should certainly be used along with a proper diet and lifestyle. Actually the present western lifestyle with poor quality food rich in cholesterol and too much processed, smoking, isolation, stress and a sedentary life are main risk factors for ischemic heart disease and a major change in lifestyle is first to be done in order to prevent and cure the disease.
Making love can soothe your heart
And as we live in a world that requires scientific evidence for everything, even the link between love expressing and heart activity has been clinically tested. Researchers from the University of New Carolina have developed two studies regarding this subject.
In the first experiment volunteer partners were put into separate rooms, blood pressure and levels of oxytocine and cortisol (stress hormone) were tested. Then they were placed in a quiet room and told to sit close together, holding hands, they watched a romantic video for 5 minutes and then talked for about two minutes about a time when they felt close as a couple. In the end partners stood for a half a minute hug. The findings of the researchers have shown that time spent with the partner and hugs are beneficial by decreasing the cortisol levels, reducing blood pressure and that that they protect against heart diseases by increasing oxytocin secretion. Oxytocin induces calm and distress and it is stimulated by touch.
Western herbs to be used for the treatment of ischemic heart disease:
Hawthorn (Crataegus oxycantha) is the best known western herb for the treatment of heart diseases. It is successfully used in cardiac failure, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, arrhythmia, circulatory insufficiency and as a heart tonic. Traditionally it has been used for centuries and in the late 1800 s European doctors began experimenting with it clinically for heart diseases. At present it appears in over 200 European herbal formulas, most of them intended to support cardiovascular health. During the first half of 20th century Hawthorne preparations were often prescribed by doctors. to support the effect of digitalis and to serve as a substitute when digitalis could not be tolerated.
The main constituents of Crataegus are flavonoides, triterpene saponines and few cardio active amines; the cardiovascular protective activity of the plant is attributed to the flavonoids that are concentrated in the leaves, berries and flowers. They enhance the activity of vitamin C and promote capillary stability. Due to the flavonoids crataegus has a significant antioxidant activity, besides it increases the coronary flow, increases the ability of the heart ability to utilize oxygen and the strength of heart contractions. Hawthorn also prevents the building up of cholesterol in the liver by encouraging the breakdown of cholesterol into bile acids; it affects intracellular calcium levels in the heart muscle, resulting in an improved cardiac function; it strengthens and regularizes the heartbeat. Unlike digitalis and other herbs with similar actions, hawthorn does not increase the risk of developing arrhythmias because it increases the refractory period. Clinical studies show that supplementation with hawthorn in patients with ischemic heart disease improves the performance of the heart, shortness of breath, improves blood pressure and reduces the frequency of angina attacks; besides no side effects are observed in many studies.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is best known as a relaxing herb, used for anxiety, depression and irritability, and a valuable remedy for palpitations with nervous origin and ischemia induced by coronarian spasms.
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) is known and used as a nervine and sedative, very useful for the circulatory system. It is used for palpitations, irregular heartbeats, hypertension and anxiety. Its association with hawthorn is very effective in hypertension.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), frequently used a spice, has a strong antioxidant activity and is also known as a very good tonic for the heart and blood vessels, useful for preventing high cholesterol and ischemic heart disease and promoting a proper activity of the circulatory system. Especially when ischemic heart disease is associated with high cholesterol levels, the use of White birch (Betula alba), Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) and Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is very useful for decreasing cholesterol and also for reducing hypertension as all 3 herbs are efficient diuretics.
And last but not least we should underline the importance of the psycho-emotional balance, because the development of heart diseases is strongly connected with the capacity of love expressing. It is already proven that individuals with Type - A personality which is characterized with insecure and impatient persons, highly competitive, workaholic, incapable of relaxation and even hostile or aggressive present a higher risk of developing coronary heart disease. At the other end of the scale, individuals that can be patient and relaxed and are able to express their feelings for the others are less prone to heart diseases.