We live in the era of chronic diseases, and the increasing incidence of heart troubles only corroborates this fact. In India alone, more than 45 million people are estimated to be suffering from coronary artery disease. Only a fraction of these is diagnosed in time. Most of these end up being poorly managed and move on to cause major health problems for the individual. Read on to learn more about these heart diseases and how to prevent them naturally with herbal remedies.
Common heart ailments
The most common of heart problems is coronary artery disease. It refers to conditions in which the coronary arteries of the heart (the arteries that supply blood to heart muscles) become narrowed and obstructed due to the deposition of cholesterol deposits in their lumen. These cholesterol deposits (called thrombi) obstruct the flow of blood leading to a lack of blood to the heart muscle. This causes the heart muscles to suffer ischemia (inadequate blood supply) and eventual muscle death. Coronary artery disease over time worsens and causes symptoms that we know as angina (chest pain), myocardial infarction, and even heart attack.
Other heart diseases seen frequently are heart arrhythmias, heart failure, valvular heart disease, etc. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is another heart problem that may be seen singly or in association with these problems.
Risk factors for developing heart disease
Some factors are common for most heart diseases and may be responsible for either causing or aggravating a heart condition. Not all of these can be modified or controlled, but most of these can be improved by making conscious efforts to change one’s habits.
- High blood pressure if treated at an earlier stage helps prevent heart disease.
- High cholesterol levels are a major risk factor to cause coronary artery disease. managing cholesterol through diet and exercise is essential for a healthy heart.
- Diabetes and prediabetes should be diagnosed and treated at the earliest to avoid complications.
- Obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease. Weight management is essential to prevent a multitude of diseases.
- Cigarette smoking is a major cause of heart disease and ranks high on the list of risk factors that can be modified to cut down the risk.
- An inactive and sedentary lifestyle can predispose an individual to develop heart disease later on in life.
- Having a family history of early heart disease also predisposes an individual to develop heart disease at a younger age.
- An unhealthy diet rich in salt, dietary sugars, fats, and oils can be equally responsible to cause heart problems.
Diet and lifestyle changes needed to prevent heart disease
Changes in diet and lifestyle can help cut down the risk of heart disease significantly. Although not all risk factors are modifiable, many of them are. Below are some steps that can be taken to lower heart disease risk.
- Get yourself checked routinely for conditions such as diabetes, prediabetes, and hypertension. If diagnosed, pursue adequate treatment to control these.
- Maintain healthy body weight.
- Exercise regularly and keep yourself physically active.
- Quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake.
- Follow a healthy diet with lesser amounts of salt, fats, oils, and dietary sugars.
- Get your lipid levels checked and your cholesterol measured. Maintain an appropriate range of cholesterol and triglycerides by following a nutritious diet.
- Manage your stress levels through healthy outlets such as yoga, meditation, exercise, hobbies, etc. Persistently high-stress levels also aggravate heart complaints.
Herbal remedies for a healthy heart
India has been the land of herbal remedies and treatments since ancient times. The history of medicine proves that ancient Indians kept themselves healthy and treated diseases through a variety of herbs and natural methods. There were remedies for almost all diseases prevalent at that time. Vaidyas, or herb doctors, were much respected and their profession was considered the noblest one.
Today, even as India has evolved into a center of modern medicine, the ancient art of herbal treatment still enjoys a venerable position in society. With time people are reverting to traditional medicine as they experience the complexities and complications of modern drugs. Although modern medicine shall always be the first line of treatment when it comes to managing medical emergencies, traditional herbal remedies help in maintaining a healthy life and avoid medical emergencies altogether.
There are many natural medicinal sources that one may consider an herbal medicine for heart ailments. Below are some of these worth mentioning:
- Turmeric – The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It helps combat high cholesterol and high lipid levels and is also an immune booster.
- Cinnamon – Cinnamon has also been proven to have cardioprotective and anti-inflammatory properties and can be easily included in the diet.
- Garlic – Garlic is an extremely important ingredient in the Indian kitchen that helps lower cholesterol and hyperlipidemia significantly. It also helps in lowering high blood pressure and is a strong immune booster.
- Hawthorn – Hawthorn is beneficial in almost all heart ailments. It helps improve blood circulation, regulates cholesterol levels, tones up the heart muscles, and also balances blood pressure. Hawthorn can be taken as a tea.
- Ginger – Ginger, another common Indian ingredient, possesses anti-inflammatory properties and helps regulate lipid levels.
- Hibiscus – Hibiscus flowers can be included in hawthorn tea as they help regulate blood pressure. Additionally, they have antioxidant properties and help in maintaining heart health.
- Motherwort – Motherwort needs a mention here as it is an excellent cardiovascular tonic. It is also useful for anxiety as it helps sooth the nerves and helps improve blood pressure also.
- Various other herbs are used in the form of powders, tinctures, teas, and oils to promote cardiac health (such as rosemary, rose, clove, cayenne pepper, ashwagandha, chia seeds, coriander, amla, and many more.
While the role of a healthy diet and lifestyle is supreme in keeping heart diseases at bay, the contribution of herbal remedies for a healthy heart cannot be overlooked. Including these herbs and spices in the diet can help avoid painful complications.