Heart disease at a young age is not due to natural reasons but our own poor lifestyle and eating habits. The heart is the primary organ in the body performing the vital function of blood circulation. Ayurveda emphasizes not only its physical role but the spiritual role also. Ayurveda maintains heart care is really important for a healthy living.
Causes of Heart Disease
According to Ayurveda, the heart is located in the heart chakra (Anahata chakra). This is a physical heart. Mind (Mann), emotions & soul also reside in Anahata chakra. That is why there is not only physical organ heart or physical things like eating habits that cause heart disease. But there is more to that which unfortunately is not much considered in the modern world. As the mind is also located in the same area, the mind also affects the physical heart.
Today we are more stressed, hectically occupied with our work, we don’t have time to relax and rejuvenate. We need to take care of the mind in order to take care of the heart. There are three properties of mana (mind) – satva, rajas & tamas. Satva is the property that keeps it quite, relaxed & healthy. When the mind has rajas & tamas guna, it is stressed, negative and this is not good for our heart. The same has been proved through research that stress & negativity creates negative pressure on the heart & many times it leads to cardiac arrest. That’s why we have to live healthily & think healthy. Eat satavic ahaar, follow satavic lifestyle, satavic thoughts for a healthy heart.
Cardiac diseases have many components, but the main aspect is the physical, structural deterioration of the vessel walls. This deterioration of structure can be of three main types:
- Clogging of vessels with cholesterol and plaque
- Damaged areas due to increased blood pressure and free radical activity
- The thickness of the walls of vessels decreases
This structural deterioration of vessels renders individuals to a variety of symptoms including pain, weakness, and shortness of breath (at times breathlessness), palpitations, and faintness. Due to poor oxygen supply to the tissues other issues can also arise, some might be life-threatening disorders.
In addition to hereditary factors the main risk factors for cardiac disorders are:
- Excess stress and over-activation of the “fight or flight” response
- Overweight, obesity and less physical activity
- Too much saturated and trans fats in the diet
- Sugar intolerance and diabetes
- Uncontrolled blood pressure
- Cigarette smoking & too much of alcohol consumption
As discussed, cardiac problems arise due to improper diet and poor lifestyle. The vitiated doshas (Vata, Pitta & Kapha) lead to hardening or thickening of arteries known as atherosclerosis “dhamani praticaya” or “dhamani kathinaya”. This obstructs the path of blood flow to heart, which ultimately leads to angina (ruja). Angina Pectoris is a syndrome that occurs due to deficiency of blood in specific muscles of the heart which is known as Myocardial Ischemia.
According to Ayurveda, Hritshoola term was defined by Sushruta (6th century BCE) – it meant ‘heart pain’. It includes all the major elements of modern definition i.e. site, nature, aggravating and relieving factors and referral. According to him, angina is chest pain which is precordial, temporary, exertional, emotional, burning like and relieved by rest.
Due to stress or other associated reasons blood pressure in arterial walls increases. Due to an increase in BP, there is wear & tear of the arterial wall. The Cholesterol from the blood stream only repairs that wear & tear. It gets deposited under the inner lining of the arteries (like atherosclerosis). With the passage of time, calcification starts in these deposits. Sooner they become fibrous & arteries lose their normal contraction & relaxation work. It won’t allow the blood to reach various parts of the body & may also lead to clotting. When clot is formed the blood supply is stopped leading to a heart attack or stroke.
- Chest pain while breathing
- Difficulty in breathing/breathlessness
- Pain over middle or lower breastbone or in epigastrium.
- Sometimes pain radiates to left shoulder/upper arm
- Pain also radiates to lower jaw/interscapular area
How to Differentiate Angina from Normal Pain?
Character – Angina is characterized by sharp pain, heaviness on the chest, or burning pain. It is consistent & constant pain radiates to arms/shoulder/jaw.
Duration – The main distinguishing feature of angina is its duration. It usually occurs for 1-4 minutes maximally. It may inhibit your activity at that time.
Radiation – Angina pain may radiate to the jaw, neck & sometimes wrists, upper arms/shoulder or face & then it spreads to the chest as well.
Provocation – When you exert yourself physically like walking the pain occurs. Excess excitement, anger, fear, following random exercise increases pain. It may get aggravated by lying down.
Relief – Angina gets temporarily relieved by NTG (nitroglycerine).
- Prolonged psychosocial stress
- High Blood Cholesterol/Dyslipidemia
- Plaques & Atherosclerosis of arteries
- Age Factor – 55 for men & 60 for women
- Cigarette Smoking
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Family History
- Kidney Disease
- Obesity (BMI more than 29kg/m2)
- Physical Inactivity
It literally means when the heart is unable to pump oxygenated blood to various parts of the body. It is a very common condition in adults and children as well. In some conditions, the heart can’t fill up with blood properly. At times the heart is not able to push the blood with enough pressure that it reaches to every part of the body. Heart failure develops over a period of time when the pumping action of the heart weakens. Mostly it involves both sides of the heart. Right-side heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen. Left-side heart failure occurs when the heart can’t pump enough oxygenated blood to other body parts.
The heart after suffering some sort of damage or undergoing physical stress by high BP will eventually begin to change its physical form. This deformation in the ventricle’s shape is known as Remodeling or Hypertrophy.
Signs and symptoms depend on the type or degree of heart block you have. First-degree heart block doesn’t have any specific symptoms.
Symptoms of second and third-degree heart block include:
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
What Causes Heart Block?
- Improper diet
- Inflammation of heart muscles
- High blood cholesterol, Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), high BP, and Diabetes
- Rheumatic fever
- Certain types of surgery may also damage the heart’s electrical system and lead to heart block
- Exposure to toxic substances and taking certain medicines—including digitalis, beta-blockers, and calcium channel blockers
- Some types of heart block have been linked to genetic mutations (changes in the genes)
- An overly active vagus nerve can also cause heart block. You have one vagus nerve on each side of your body. These nerves run down from your brain stem all the way to the abdomen. Activity in the vagus nerve slows the heart rate.
We at Dr. Aggarwal’s Ayurvedic Panchakarma & Research Centre have been treating heart blockages for ten years and patients have recovered from serious conditions. By-pass surgery or angioplasty is done but it is not always the solution as blocks still remain & there is a repeat bypass surgery advised.