Heart to Heart
Years ago, the textbook of pathology by William Boyd stated that “As is your waistline, so is your lifeline”. Obesity in the trunk region is responsible for a condition called metabolic syndrome X, which comprises of a bigger abdomen size, low HDL (good) cholesterol, high LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides, high blood pressure and probably type 2 – diabetes. This condition is responsible for heart attacks and this is all because of all faulty eating habits (high fat, high simple carbohydrates and low fiber diets) and lack of exercise”.
Waist to hip ratio:- people who carry most of their below their waist are often referred to as “apples”. Those who carry most of their weight below their waist, around their hips and thighs, are known as “pears”. For two peoples with the same BMI, “apples” have a higher risk for health problems than “pears”.
The risk of heart diseases can be reduced and prevented by making life style changes:-
· If you smoke, quit – The incident of heart attack is less likely for non-smokers compared to smokers. According to WHO, individuals who quit smoking decrease their risk of CAD one year later by 50 %. If you have quit smoking, for 15 years, your risk of dying from CAD is almost as low as a life time non-smoker. Moreover, passive smoking harms your dearest and nearest.
· Shed weight – “We eat to live and not live to eat”. Being over weight or obese increases your risk factor for a variety of diseases, including heart diseases. Losing just 10 % of your total body weight can make a huge difference. “Aim for a body mass index less than 23”.
Eat healthy – Also focus on healthy eating by getting at least 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables, enough proteins, whole grains and water and limiting sweets, fats and salt. “Go natural should be the motto. Lay emphasis on foods as they exist in nature.
· Be physically active – It is important to get at least 30-40 minutes of physical activity on all or most days of the week. “It is not necessary to go to the gym or buy fancy equipments. A simple brisk walk for an hour a day can add a day to your life”. Walking is a great low-impact exercise for developing and maintaining cardio vascular fitness.
· Control your Cholesterol – Cholesterol consists of two numbers combined – LDL (bad or lousy) and HDL (good or healthy). Keep the LDL below 100, the HDL above 40 and triglycerides below 150 mg/dl. People who have a lower HDL and higher LDL are at an increased risk of heart disease. “It is important to start getting your Cholesterol tested after 20 years of age”.
· Lower your blood pressure – Hypertension, place you at grave risk for heart disease. It can be controlled through medication, if taken regularly, to minimize the deleterious effects of high blood pressure. Lowering your salt intake, losing weight and controlling stress will help prevent it. High blood pressure damages kidneys, the eyes, and arteries and also caries a risk of haemorrhage or stroke.
· Diabetes alert – Diabetes is a disorder of sugar metabolism causing high blood sugar due to insufficient or ineffective insulin. While the cells of the body are starved of energy, the excess in the blood damages various organs like heart, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Diabetes significantly increases the risk of coronary artery disease. With regular exercise and healthy eating, it can be prevented or managed well.
· Go for a check up – “Each individual after the age of 45 years should think he is a potential candidate for a heart attack unless proved otherwise. Tests like carotid Doppler, upper and lower limb blood pressure ratio, stress test and lipid profile can predict heart disease”.
· Heart disease in the family? Take extra care – It is up to you to remain vigilant about controlling the other primary risk factors and assuring that a competent heart specialist properly monitors you for every signs of heart disease. Remember you can actually increase your life expectancy in spite of this inherited problem.
· Listen to your doctor – “. The only way to defeat these silent killers is to learn to control them and not under estimate thLarge number of patient with hypertension, diabetes, and high Cholesterol don’t take therapy”em”.
A cardiac problem could be anything like a congenital heart defect, cardiomyopathy or a heart block. There are a large number of tests, which can be done to diagnose the condition. Some of the commonly done cardiac tests are;-
· ECG – ECG is usually the first cardiac test recommended when one is suspecting a heart problem. It measures the electrical activity of the heart. A change in the ECG pattern can be indicative of the presence of heart disease.
· STRESS TEST/ STRESS ECG – During a stress test, one is made to walk on a thread mill and the ECG and blood pressure is measured. The speed of the thread mill is gradually increased. A positive stress test is indicated by a change in the ECG and is suggestive of blocked arteries.
· ECHOCARDIOGRAPHY – This tests the pumping function of the heart and studies the motion of the heart valves, which control the flow of blood in and out of the heart. During the test, sound waves are bounced off the surface of the heart to produce a picture on the screen.
· THALLIUM STRESS TEST/ Nuclear Medicine stress test;- Here a dye is injected into the heart and pictures of the heart are taken, before and after the stress test. This test can detect areas of the heart muscles that have been damaged by a heart attack and areas that are not getting enough oxygen due to partial blockages of the coronary arteries.
· CORONARY ANGIOGRAPHY – This is a gold standard of all the tests to detect heart disease. This test identifies the specific locations and severity of blockages or narrowing in the coronary arteries. It also evaluates the functioning of the left ventricles. This information is essential to determine if heart surgery is needed.
To perform the test a thin plastic tube (catheter) is inserted into an artery in the leg and is threaded up to the coronary arteries. Dye is injected into the coronary arteries while an X-ray machine shoots numerous pictures from various angles.
· Digitalis- It is indicated in sudden violent beating of heart with disturbed rhythm. Sensation as if heart would stop beating if the patient moves. Slightest motion increases the anxiety and palpitation. Pulse is irregular, intermitting at every 3rd, 5th or 7th beat. Slow strong pulse when rheumatism is threatening the heart. Body is cyanosed due to cardiac spells. Lips and face becomes pale. Sensation of faintness and weakness with blueness of fingers. It is also used in cardiac dropsy. Heart is dilated and hypertrophied. Cardiac failure following fevers. Also used in copious serous exudation or pericarditis.
· Gelsemium- It is indicated where patient fears that heart will cease to beat if he doesn’t move, so he thinks it is necessary to keep in motion. This sensation aggravates during the sleep from which the patient wakes up in distress. Pulse is very weak, soft, full and flowing. Pulse is slow when patient is at rest but becomes fast on motion. Irregular pulse and palpitation during fever. Weak and slow pulse in old age.
· Cactus Grandiflorus- pain in the region of heart, sensation of constriction of the heart, patient feels as if compressed or squeezed by an iron band, which prevents the normal movements. Oppression of chest as if from a great weight, difficulty in breathing prevents patient from lying down. The pain starting from the apex of heart shoots down along the left arm to the end of fingers. Palpitation of heart, irregularity of heart action, intermittent pulse, oedema – mainly of left hand, foot and legs, cyanosis, numbness of left arm.
· Kalmia- It is a remedy for cardiac enlargement after rheumatism with numbness of the left arm. The symptoms which indicates this medicine are intense pain from the chest to the scapula with anguish ness, dyspnoea, palpitation, pressure on heart, irregular pulse, pain on the left arm with too rapid pulsation.
· Convallaria- It is useful in valular diseases of the heart with dyspnoea. Oedema due to cardiac diseases, scanty urine and dropsy. The symptoms are feeble heart sound, pain in the region of heart, uneasiness, sensation as if the heart will stop beating when exercising, faintness, sick feeling. Twitching is the indicative symptom associated with cardiac problems. Dilatation of heart associated with emphysema. It is also used in cases of fatty hearts.
· Crataegus Oxy- It is useful when the heart action is feeble and irregular and when the pulse becomes small and intermittent; It is also used in sensation as if the heart would stop beating. It is also used in functional disturbances of heart, dilatation of the heart and also in fatty heart with palpitation and tachycardia. It is almost used in every kind of heart disease without any harm or it may be taken as a heart tonic to strengthen the heart if taken regularly by heart patients. It is useful especially where there is high diastolic and low systolic pressure. It is excellent in support of the failing myocardium.
· Other Medicines used in cardiac disorders are ;-
Aconite, Rhus tox, Arsenic alb, Lachesis, Apocyanum, Strophanthus, Spigelia, Cimicifuga, Bryonia, Veratrum viride, Collinsonia, Lillium tig, Lycopodium, Lycopus, Adonis vernalis, Iberis, Carboveg, Conium, Strychnia, etc.