The primary function of the heart is to pump blood ensuring that oxygen and nutrients are delivered to all cells and tissues, while waste products like carbon dioxide are removed from all parts of the body.
Artery disease, heart failure, arrhythmias, and valvular heart disease are the most common conditions. Heart attacks and ailments are caused by inflammation and weakening of the heart muscles.
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Increasingly, heart disease is being seen in younger and younger people. Uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure often lead to heart disease or cardiovascular diseases.
Some of the most common factors that affect cardiovascular heath are:
Genetic factors are often activated by lifestyle or environmental factors. That is why, not everyone with from the same genetic family develops heart disease. Hypertrophic cardiomyopahty (thickening of the heart muscles), dilated cardiomyopahty (enlargement and weakness) and hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol deposits in the heart) are genetic disorders.
Stress is a significant contributor to heart disease. The stress hormone cortisol worsens diseases like hypertension, diabetes and triglycerides.
Sleep habits are important to maintain heart health. Sleep deprivation over a period of time will lead to elevated triglyceride levels in the body. It is the quality of sleep and not the quantity that determines health. Body repair and maintenance is carried out during restful sleep. Sleep discipline is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle.
Alcohol and smoking leads to excess triglycerides in the body.
Obesity, the abnormal or excessive fat accumulation, compromises the heart. Fat gets deposited in the heart muscles impairing its functioning. Excess sugar and carbohydrate consumption contributes significantly to obesity.
Viral infections of late have been known to affect the heart. Blood tests like high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (Hs-CRP) and homocysteine quantitative and a non-invasive method, the computerized tomography (CT) coronary angiography can provide a clear picture of the condition of the heart.
While these external factors have a detrimental impact on heart health, it is important to understand that emotional stress like uncontrolled anger and prolonged frustations like kama, krodha, moha, lobha and aham (precursors to mental health) also affect the cardiovascular system.
Among the saptha dhathus (seven vital elements) the first form rasa dhathu plays a vital role in maintaining heart health. Chyle, in modern science which is formed in the small intestine during digestion of foods, is known as rasa dhathu in Ayurveda. It is the best fuel for the heart. Hence, a healthy digestive system is crucial to hearth health. This knowledge is ingrained in ancient medicines. For instance, Chinese medicine sees the heart and stomach as king and queen of the body. Therefore, digestive disorders must be addressed to safeguard the heart.
It is a myth that high fat diet is the sole culprit for high cholesterol and heart disease as a consequence. Western medicine treats heart ailments by prescribing blood thinners. But, prolonged use of such medicines may have side effects and cause internal bleeding in the brain, prostrate, eyes and stomach
Ayurveda approaches the heart health by dealing with the root cause – inflammation. Excess inflammation may form clots and obstruct blood flow which will result in heart attacks. One reason for inflammation in the body is the production of excess insulin, often as a result of sugar-rich and carb-heavy foods.
Tests that are helpful in predicting the risk of heart attack:
Apolipoprotein D (ApoD)
Heart health can be preserved and maintained by adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle. Reducing stress, engaging in fulfilling activities and getting adequate rest will to mitigate wear and tear of the vital organ. Living a life of love, kindness and compassion will have a positive impact.
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