The heart is the most vital organ in the body, which is about the size of ones own clenched fist protected in a covering called pericardium. The heart normally beats 1,00,000 times in a day and pumps blood through 60,000 miles of tiny blood vessels.
For all this the heart itself requires nourishment which comes from the blood itself and is supplied via coronary heart vessels.
The heart undergoes changes as age advances. The changes are:
1) Calcification of pulmonary and mitral valves resulting in insufficient or stressed output of blood , sometimes associated wit incomplete flow of blood, resulting in what we call regurgitation.
2) Muscle atrophy resulting in faster tiredness of heat muscles.
3) Increasing amounts of lipofucin pigment in old age gets deposited in cardiac muscles
4) Arterial thickening and loss of its elasticity, resulting in stiffness and raising systolic blood pressure and reducing diastolic blood pressure. Further, it is unable to meet demands of oxygen requirement.
5) Formation of clots and plaques in arterial vessels
6) Raised cholesterol and triglycerides due to sedentary life style and lack of exercise leading to thrombosis of coronary vessels.
Now let us go throw cardiac disease symptoms which help in diagnosing the disease.
1) Shortness of breath which is caused by deprivation of oxygen.
2) Chest pain called ANGINA associated with radiation of pain to left hand / jaw along with nauseating sensations. Radiation of pain is many a times absent in diabetic patients because of decreased pain threshold in diabetics. Chest pain also can be felt as squeezing pain/ heaviness in chest.
3) Palpitation with perspiration and emotion of fear associated with cold hands and feet with increased tiredness.
What investigations one should do if these symptoms are observed?
1) Immediate electrocardiogram known as E.C.G. (Remember if you give sorbitrate to the patient, the changes will not be visible in E.C.G and you may miss the diagnosis and further in treatment, thus loosing a precious life). Give 5mg sublingual sorbitrate (below the tongue) only if the hospital is too far to reach or the patient is a known case of hypertension or cardiac diseases.
2) Second is the CPK-MB test. This is done by doctors and is the diagnostics of myocardial infarction (heart attack). This is positive only till twelve hours of heart attack/ cardiac chest pain.
3) If 12 hours have passed then LDH, SGOT, SGPT are the hormones which support the diagnosis. They cannot be diagnosed but are in favor of a cardiac event.
Such patients are to be kept under observation with treatment for days. The first 48 hours after heart attack are extremely dangerous for the patient’s life as it could be fatal anytime. Extreme care for stress management has to be taken with readiness of all emergency requirements which is taken care by the intensive care unit (ICU).
The fundamental conditioning factor in all heart diseases is the diet. A corrective diet designed to alter the body chemistry and improve the quality of general nutritional intake can in may cases reverse the degenerating changes which occurred in the heart and blood vessels (as explained earlier).
The diet should be lacto-vegetarian, low in sodium and calories. It should be high in quality natural organic foods with emphasis on whole grains, seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables. Foods which should be eliminated are all white flour products, sweets, chocolates, canned foods in syrup, soft drinks, squashes, all hard fats of animal origin such as butter, cream and fatty meats. Salts and sugar should be reduced substantially. The patient should also avoid the consumption of tea and coffee, alcohol and tobacco in all forms.
The essential fatty acids which reduce serum cholesterol levels and minimize the risk of arteriosclerosis can be obtained from sunflower seed oil and corn oil. The use of olive oil is considered as valuable in heart diseases. It is dominant in mono-saturated fat. It lowers bad cholesterol known as LDL, without making any changes in good cholesterol known as HDL. It has antioxidant activity which wards off artery damage from LDL cholesterol. It is common practice in Italy to use olive oil as therapy after heart attack.
Other important cholesterol lowering foods are alfa alfa and yoghurt. Lecithin helps prevent fatty deposits in arteries. Best food sources are unrefined, raw, crude vegetable oils, seeds and grains. Fruits and vegetables in general are highly beneficial, but apple is said to be a heart tonic as it stimulates properties and helps patients suffering from a weak heart. Fresh grapes, pineapple, orange, custard apple, pomegranate and coconut water also tone up the heart. Grapes are effective in chest pain (only of cardiac origin) and in palpitation. Heart diseases can be under control in a very short span if the patient adopts a diet of grape juice. Indian gooseberry is considered an effective home remedy as it tones the cardiac muscle and builds up health by destroying the heterogeneous elements and renewing lost energy.
Another excellent remedy is garlic. Garlic has antioxidants, anti anginals (like sorbitrate), anti infectives (like antibiotics), anti platelet (like aspirin) properties. Garlic has almost 15 antioxidants which neutralizes artery destroying agents. Onion helps in reducing cholesterol by oxidizing excess cholesterol. One tea spoon of onion juice on an empty stomach in the morning will be very beneficial for high cholesterol patients. Honey has properties that tones up the heart muscle and improves blood circulation. It is effective to control fast heart beats, i.e., palpitation and in reducing episodes of chest pain.
Patients with heart troubles should increase intake of food rich in vitamin E and B. Vit. E promotes heart functioning by improving oxygenation of cells, thereby improving the circulation and strengthening the heart muscles. Many whole wheat products and green vegetables particularly green leafy vegetables and outer covering of cabbage is a good source of vit.E. Vit.B rectifies any circulatory disorders of the heart and is found in whole grains.
Vit.C is also essential as it protects against spontaneous breaches in the capillary walls which can lead to heart attacks. It also guards against high blood cholesterol. The stress of anger, fear, disappointments and similar emotions can raise blood fat and cholesterol levels immediately and these are tackled by vitamin C and pantothenic acid. All citrus fruits are rich sources of vit.C. Little bit of yoga, cycling, walking (no brisk walking or running if you are already a cardiac patient), pranayam will also help in relieving stress.
By – Dr. Hiren Parekh