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Heart attack

General characteristics

General characteristics

A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, occurs when the blood supply to the heart muscle itself (via the coronary arteries) is interrupted or stopped completely. This can happen when the inside of the blood vessels supplying the heart become blocked with either plaque or a blood clot. It can also happen when the coronary arteries suffer a spasm, which constricts the blood vessels and stops blood flow to the heart muscles. When blood flow to the heart muscles are stopped, portions of the heart muscles themselves begin to die through lack of oxygen. The hearts capacity to pump is then reduced.

A fatal heart attack (the killer) occurs when the majority of the heart muscle is destroyed due to lack of blood and it can no longer function as a pump. When the heart stops pumping it is known as a cardiac arrest. Milder heart attacks (ones you recover from) result from partial muscle death, so the quicker the blood supply to the heart is restored, the less heart muscle will be destroyed. Knowing the symptoms of a heart attack can save a life.

Symptoms include pain or pressure in the chest or back, shortness of breath, a cold clammy sweat over the skin, weariness, pains down the left (sometimes both) arm, pains in the left side of the jaw, neck, shoulders and face, feelings of fullness or indigestion, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath and a strange feeling of "overwhelming doom". These symptoms can often build slowly and even come and go over a few days, many people who have survived them say that no two heart attacks are identical. Some heart attacks, called 'silent' heart attacks produce little or no symptoms. If you suspect you or someone with you is having a heart attack, call an ambulance immediately.

Changing the body position during a heart attack may be important. Sitting down with the back and head comfortably supported is perhaps the best position. Lying down during a heart attack may make it harder to breathe.

Healing objectives are to restore blood flow to the heart as quickly as possible and make any changes needed to prevent further incidences.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

If you smoke give up or drastically cut down, nicotine greatly aggravates the heart and circulation.

Base your diet around fresh fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, seeds and nuts and avoid processed foods wherever possible.

Avoid low fat dairy foods as the stripping away of normal fats has been linked to an increased risk of diseases such as a variety of cancers, teenage acne and heart disease, to name but a few. Full fat dairy contains far more nutrients such as vitamins D, B and A which give many beneficial health effects. Use organic whenever possible to avoid hormones and other nasties.

Two portions of oily fish (sardines, mackerel, salmon, kippers, anchovies, herring and trout) weekly will reduce the likelihood of heart attacks due to their richness in essential fatty acids.

Pomegranate juice, a rich source of antioxidants improves blood flow to the heart muscles. Many other coloured berries and plants which contain antioxidants will have similar effects.

Avoid foods and drinks containing phosphates which include baked processed foods (biscuits, bread, cakes etc), fizzy drinks, processed cheeses and meats. These phosphates can add to plaque formation within blood vessels leading to their narrowing.

Increase your intake of raw garlic (minimum of 2 raw cloves daily), onions and leeks. These reduce the stickiness of the blood and greatly improve circulation.

Eat more bitter foods such as chicory, artichoke and dark green leaves which help support the heart, foods rich calcium and magnesium such as sesame seeds or tahini, kale and dark green leaves, seaweeds, algae.

Avoid refined fats of all kinds. Contrary to popular medical opinion there is no link between animal fat consumption and the occurrence of heart disease. In fact studies are now showing the most damaging fats to be processed vegetable oils and fats, that includes all vegetable margarines and any heated vegetable oils. Many foods contain these damaging 'trans fats' including cakes, pastries, biscuits, crisps, chocolate - in fact any food that has 'vegetable oil' in the ingredients should be avoided. It is far better to use organic butter (see 'wholefood diet' in the natural healing section of this site and the book list). Read 'The Cholesterol Myth' by Dr Uffe Ravnskov for a real eye opener.

It is also very important to keep the bowels moving regularly so increase fibre in the form of fresh fruit and vegetables and consider taking bitter and digestive herbs to improve digestion. A bowl of muesli for breakfast each morning containing oats should do the job. Oats are excellent for the heart and blood vessels.

Useful herbs

Useful herbs

At the first signs or suspicions of a heart attack put a teaspoon of cayenne (chilli) powder in a small glass of hot water and sip slowly. Cayenne will increase blood flow around the entire body, including to the heart muscle and should provide great relief within minutes. Use it daily then as a preventative and restorative. Begin with a third of a teaspoon in water 3 times daily, gradually building to a teaspoon in water 3 times daily.

Cayenne is in fact a safer alternative to aspirin as aspirin can lead to fatalities if the symptoms experienced are caused by a bleed somewhere in the body and not a heart attack. In such cases cayenne will also stop bleeding (even though it thins the blood!) and regulate blood pressure.

Hawthorn berries, flowers and flowering tops can be taken daily for many years, with complete safety, as food to strengthen the heart muscle and to help maintain a good coronary blood supply. Take a heaped teaspoonful of tincture 3 times daily or 3 cups of tea daily.

Fenugreek seeds can be added to herbal formulas to help protect the heart from scar tissue build up after a heart attack and to improve overall cardiovascular health.

Sage leaf can be added to formulas to help improve blood flow to the heart muscle.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Avoid the use of supplements, particularly calcium supplements as some of these contribute to the development of arterial plaque. Use freshly juiced vegetables and fruits regularly as your nutritional boosts. Carrot, apple and dark green leaves will provide plenty of calcium, magnesium and other nutrients.
Be very cautious using non steroidal painkillers as the British Medical Journal has reported a significant link between repeated regular use of the most common painkillers such as ibuprofen and an increased risk of heart attacks.
Make sure your dental health is good and checked regularly. Dental problems such as plaque build up and tooth decay is now being linked to various health problems including heart disease.

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