What is heart disease?
Heart disease, or cardiac disease, is a term that describes any disorder that affects the heart, such as heart attacks, arrhythmia, or stroke. This is different than cardiovascular disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. In the US, 23.5% of all deaths are a result of heart disease.
What are the most common types of heart disease?
A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, is the number one killer in the US, causing about 460,000 deaths yearly. A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to the heart is blocked by a blood clot, usually as a result of a rupture of unstable or vulnerable plaque. If the blood flow is cut off completely, the area of the heart that is supplied by this blood vessel will begin to die.
Generally, depending on the severity most people will survive their first heart attack. The majority of those who do not survive, die before reaching the emergency room. For those who get help in time, the prognosis is excellent. It is, however, a sign that some changes to lifestyle and diet need to be made to avoid having another one.
What are the symptoms of a heart attack?
- Discomfort, pain, fullness or squeezing sensation in the chest
- Toothache or pain in the jaw
- Nausea or vomiting
- Discomfort in the upper abdomen
- Heartburn and/or indigestion
- Pain in the upper arm (usually the left arm)
- Upper back pain
- Uncontrolled sweating
- No noticeable symptoms (one quarter of heart attack sufferers experience no symptoms)
Heart failure does not mean that the heart stops pumping. It means that the heart muscle is weakened and therefore cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. It usually develops as we age, but it is not strictly limited to seniors. Most people that develop heart disease have had another heart condition first, the most common being coronary artery disease, high blood pressure or a prior heart attack. A history of excessive alcohol intake or even the long term use of the cholesterol-lowering agents, statin drugs, have been associated with the increased risk of heart failure.
What are the symptoms of heart failure?
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent coughing or wheezing
- Swelling of the feet, ankles, legs or abdomen
- Impaired thinking
- Increased heart rate
An arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm—either too fast, too slow or erratically. This can impede the heart’s ability to supply the body with the proper amount of blood and oxygen. This occurs when there is a deviation from the normal sequence of electrical impulses which cause the heart to beat. Several different conditions or imbalances can cause an arrhythmia, including coronary artery disease, an imbalance of electrolytes in the blood, a prior heart attack, heart surgery, an overactive thyroid or excessive caffeine intake.
What are the symptoms of an arrhythmia?
- ‘Fluttering’ sensation in the chest
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Racing or slowed heartbeat
The heart valves open and close to control the flow of blood. Heart valve problems refer to dysfunction of these valves. There are several types of heart valve conditions:
Regurgitation: The valve does not close properly, allowing blood to leak through
Stenosis: The valve does not open far enough, impeding the blood flow
Mitral valve prolapse: The valve leaflets (the little doors that open and close) prolapse back into the upper chamber of the heart, preventing them from closing properly and allowing blood to leak through.
There are several different types of strokes, some more damaging than others. The most common type of stroke is an ischemic stroke. This occurs when a blood vessel that carries blood to the brain becomes blocked, usually from a blood clot. When a part of the brain loses its blood supply, the cells begin to die. Depending on the area of the brain in which the stroke occurs, sufferers may lose some ability, such as speaking or control of specific muscles. There are several types of ischemic strokes which differ based on whether the blood clot reaches the brain (embolic stroke) and the size of the blood vessel that the clot occurs in, but with all strokes, the rule is: time lost is brain lost. The longer the brain is deprived of blood, the more of it will die.
A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is ruptured, usually caused by extreme hypertension.
A transient ischemic attack (TIA), or ‘mini-stroke’ occurs when there is a temporary drop in the blood supply to the brain, depriving it of oxygen. Generally, the patient will experience stroke-like symptoms for a short time only, with no visible lasting effects. However, it is still important to receive medical attention because 10%-15% of mini-stroke sufferers will have a full stroke within three months.
If you believe you may have had a stroke seek medical attention as quickly as possible. The faster the blood flow is restored, the less of the brain will be affected, making it imperative that stroke victims get help as quickly as possible.
Traditionally, heart disease has been treated with a combination of medication, surgical procedures (such as a bypass, stent or pacemaker) and lifestyle changes. Common medications prescribed for heart disease include ACE inhibitors, Beta-Blockers, Calcium-channel blockers, aspirin, platelet inhibitors, and cholesterol-lowering agents. You will notice that all of these medications inhibit or block a natural body function. Side effects may include kidney problems, skin rash, diarrhea, mental confusion, headaches, shortness of breath, edema, abdominal pain, constipation, upper respiratory infection, weakness, fatigue, depression, muscle and joint pain, fluid retention and more.
At the Magaziner Center for Wellness we use a functional medicine approach to treat heart disease naturally. Whereas conventional healthcare focuses on the use of medication or other methods that suppress symptoms or block the natural function the body, we use natural therapies that work in conjunction with the body. Our treatments work by facilitating, enabling and assisting normal physiologic reactions. In other words, rather than fighting the body and its natural function, we support it, giving it the tools it needs to heal itself.
Using a series of extremely thorough tests, we work to determine the root cause of the imbalance and develop an individualized plan of treatment based on each patient’s unique needs and contributing factors. No two patients are identical so we look at each patient’s lifestyle, stressors, environment, heavy metals, diet, health history, and the level of vitamins and minerals or any toxins present in the body to determine the specific and unique factors contributing to the imbalance. Using methods such as chelation therapy, various nutrients and nutraceuticals to improve heart function, and anti-inflammatory based-diet and lifestyle, stress reduction techniques and controlled exercise, we treat the cause of the imbalance, rather than the symptoms, helping the body to return to a state of optimal health—fully and naturally.