* A heart attack or myocardial infarction occurs when the blood no longer reaches the heart muscle and it is starved of nutrients and oxygen. This results in the heart muscle being damaged or stopping completely.
* Coronary arteries can become blocked due to a blood clot or atherosclerosis. It depends on where the blockage occurs and for how long as to how severe the damage is to the heart.
* A heart attack can lead to heart failure where the heart does not supply sufficient blood to the rest of the body, and eventually death. More than one and a half million Americans suffer heart attacks each year and about one third of those die.
* The cause of a heart attack is a blockage to a coronary artery. Blockages occur due to factors including smoking, obesity, atherosclerosis, stress, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, genetics, age and hypertension.
* Some people experience very obvious symptoms for several hours or even months and others experience very little to no symptoms at all. Symptoms may include an unusual feeling in the chest that may range from a heavy, severe squeezing pain, to pressure or a feeling of fullness in the chest. Chest pain may also be felt in the neck, arms and or the shoulders. Other symptoms include angina pectoris, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, fainting, vomiting, difficulty talking, shortness of breath, sweating or a constant feeling of having heartburn.
* If you have these symptoms it is important to seek emergency medical attention.
* Quit Smoking – smoking is one of the leading contributors to death from heart disease. It is vital to quit smoking and to avoid passive smoking. See smoking for information on how to quit.
* Address Obesity Problems – obesity is a major factor in heart disease. Reducing weight reduces the risk of heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol and heart attack.
* Exercise – it is important to exercise for at least half an hour three times weekly. A low impact exercise such as walking, cycling, aqua aerobics or swimming is recommended. Exercise increases ‘good’ cholesterol levels, reduces the risk of heart disease and may also reduce blood pressure. It is important to seek medical advice before undergoing a new exercise regimen if you are over thirty-five or have heart disease, as exercise may exacerbate your condition.
* Stress Management – the mind has a powerful influence upon one’s health, and techniques such as meditation, yoga or breathing exercises should be a part of your daily stress management program to reduce the risk of heart disease.
* Dietary Change – is by far one of the best ways to reduce the risk of heart disease and to actually reverse existing heart disease.
- Adopt a vegetarian diet as vegetarians have a reduced risk of heart disease. If you already have heart disease, a vegetarian diet will unclog blocked arteries. Blocked arteries take many years to become clogged, however, the longer one consumes a vegetarian diet, the better the effect will be on the arteries.
- Avoid salt, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, refined white flour, candy, spicy food, dairy products, margarine, coconut and palm oil, butter, chocolate, and fried foods.
- Eat smaller and more regular meals as grazing helps to reduce cholesterol levels. – Include plenty of fiber in your diet, at least 35 gms daily.
* If a patient can reach medical treatment in time, invasive surgery and drug therapy are the only treatments available for a heart attack. It is highly recommended that one try to lower the risk of a heart attack by using natural preventative therapies before such an incident occurs.
VITAMIN B3 – NIACIN – Lowers cholesterol levels, helps in metabolism and improves circulation. Natural sources of niacin include fennel seed, hops, licorice, alfalfa, whole wheat products, tomatoes, vegemite, potatoes, dates, carrots, brewer’s yeast, chamomile and dandelion greens. Use according to label instructions. Do not take niacin if you are diabetic, or have glaucoma, gout, liver disease or peptic ulcers.
VITAMIN B5 – PANTOTHENIC ACID – Pantethine – a form of vitamin B5. Helps to metabolize fats, lowers cholesterol levels and increases ‘good’ cholesterol levels. Natural sources of vitamin B5 include brewer’s yeast, legumes, mushrooms, royal jelly, whole rye flour and whole wheat. Use according to label instructions.
VITAMIN C – protects the arteries from fatty deposits, reduces stress, lowers cholesterol levels and has shown to reduce blood pressure levels. Natural sources of vitamin C include citrus fruit, parsley, brussel sprouts, broccoli, leafy green vegetables, persimmon, rose hip, kale, papaya, tomatoes, alfalfa, fennel seed, kelp, onions, black currants, cantaloupe, dandelion greens and mangos. 1,000 mg daily in divided doses may help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Do not use more than 5,000 mg daily if pregnant. Use esterified vitamin C if you use aspirin. Large doses of vitamin C may cause diarrhea, may deplete the body of copper and affect the reliability of oral contraceptives.
VITAMIN E – an antioxidant that protects the cardiovascular system and reduces the risk of blood clotting. Natural sources of vitamin E include nuts, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, asparagus, peas, soy lecithin, dark green leafy vegetables, brown rice, kelp, oats, sweet potatoes, alfalfa, and rose hip. 400 – 800 iu daily in divided doses may help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Take according to label instructions if you suffer from diabetes, overactive thyroid, or are taking anticoagulant medication.
CHOLINE – used in fat and cholesterol metabolism and protects the liver from fatty deposits. Natural sources of choline include legumes, soy lecithin, soybeans and whole grain cereals. 500 – 1,000 mg daily in divided doses may help. Do not take if you suffer bipolar depression.
CALCIUM – reduces cholesterol levels, blood pressure and may prevent heart disease. Natural sources of calcium include molasses, tofu, leafy green vegetables, soy beans, almonds, broccoli, brewer’s yeast, carob, dandelion, figs, chamomile, flaxseed, parsley, peppermint, alfalfa and sesame seeds. Use according to label instructions. Seek medical advice before taking calcium if you suffer from hyperparathyroidism, kidney disease or sarcoidosis, or if you are taking a calcium channel blocker for heart problems or high blood pressure. Increased calcium intake may require increased magnesium intake.
CHROMIUM – reduces cholesterol levels and improves HDL:LDL ratio. 100 mcg daily in divided doses may help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Consult your physician before taking chromium supplements if you have diabetes.
MAGNESIUM – assists in calcium absorption, helps to protect arterial linings from changes in blood pressure and may lower cholesterol levels. Natural sources of magnesium include garlic, leafy green vegetables, alfalfa, fenugreek, lemongrass, apples, bananas, parsley, peppermint, tofu, soybeans, sesame seeds, peaches, brown rice, cantaloupe and blackstrap molasses. 800 – 1,200 mg daily in divided doses may help to reduce the risk of heart disease. High doses of magnesium may cause diarrhea. Consult your physician before taking magnesium supplementation if you have kidney disease.
SELENIUM – an important antioxidant that works synergistically with vitamin E. Selenium helps to prevent free radical formation and is known to help reduce cardiovascular disease. Selenium deficiency has been linked with heart disease and high cholesterol. Natural sources of selenium include wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, brown rice, fennel seed, fenugreek, garlic, molasses, onions, lemongrass, kelp, broccoli, alfalfa, and peppermint. 150 – 300 mcg daily may help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
ALFALFA – helps to prevent atherosclerosis. Eat raw or use according to label instructions.
CAYENNE,CAPSICUM, RED PEPPER, HOT PEPPER. – Use to improve circulation, helps with chest pain and strengthens the heart. Eat raw or use according to label instructions.
GARLIC – lowers cholesterol levels, thins the blood and may reduce the risk of heart disease. Eat raw, or 2 – 3 capsules daily may help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Consult your physician before taking garlic if you are taking anticoagulant medication.
GINKGO, MAIDENHAIR TREE – an antioxidant, improves circulation, assists in peripheral artery closures. Use according to label instructions for at least two weeks for maximum benefit.
GREEN TEA – protects against atherosclerosis and may lower cholesterol levels. Drink liberally.
HAWTHORN – reduces blood pressure and angina attacks, increases blood flow to the heart, lowers cholesterol levels and prevents cholesterol from depositing on artery walls. Use according to label instructions. Note that excessive amounts can be dangerous as it may depress respiration and heart rate.
ROSEMARY – helps to normalize blood pressure and is used for circulatory problems. Use according to label instructions or eat raw. Do not use essential oil for high blood pressure.