The Silent Killer
There are 6 common cardiovascular diseases: Coronary heart disease, Cerebrovascular heart disease, Peripheral Arterial heart disease, Rheumatic heart disease, Congenital heart disease, and Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism. Genetic or born with conditions will not be discussed as there is no way to prevent these conditions for occurring although, there are ways to manage these conditions. Majority of the cardiovascular diseases involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain, or stroke; hypertension (high blood pressure) being the leading risk. Most people relate a heart attack or stroke to the disease itself but, in fact, they are the warning signs the blood vessels are not in tip top shape.
For the past fifteen years cardiovascular disease is the number one worlds biggest killer
leading investments to over 1.55 billion dollars in Canada since 1952; decreasing death rate greater than 75% https://www.heartandstroke.ca/research/strategy/funding-excellence. But why is it still the leading cause of death if it has decreased by 75%?
Public and charitable funding for 2005 was 96 million dollars for Canada. Sad to say by international standards, Canada spends less on health-related research than the UK and the Us. Canada relies on the data base of other countries. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3469373/
Main causes of cardiovascular disease are:
· Unhealthy eating
· High salt intake
· High alcohol consumption https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28735784/
· Physical inactivity
· High levels of stress https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29213140/
· High cholesterol
· Family history
Majority of the time there are no symptoms of cardiovascular disease, a heart attack and stroke maybe the first warnings signs of the disease.
Signs of a heart attack:
· Pain or discomfort in the center of the chest
· Pain or discomfort in the arms, the left shoulder, elbows, jaw, or back
· Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
· Feeling sick or vomiting, light-headed or faint
· Breaking into a cold sweat
· Becoming pale
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see you doctor immediately
Most common signs of a stroke:
· Sudden weakness in the face, arm, or leg (most often on one side of the body)
· Sudden onset of a stroke includes:
· Numbness of the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side of the body)
· Confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding their speech
· Difficulty seeing with one or both eyes
· Difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
· Severe headache with no known cause
· Fainting or unconsciousness
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see you doctor immediately
Depending on the symptoms you are experiencing will determine how your doctor will proceed. The doctor will first begin asking about your medical health history and family medical history followed by a physical exam before sending you for blood work and a chest x-ray. After the blood and chest x-ray results your doctor may send you for the following:
1. Electrocardiogram (ECG)– Records electrical signals of the heart to detect irregularities. This may occur while you are at rest or while exercising.
2. Holter Monitoring – This more advanced testing of an ECG is portable and to be worn for 24 – 72 hours. It will detect heart irregularities that the ECG did not.
3. Echocardiogram – An ultrasound displaying images of your heart’s structure and function.
4. Stress Test – Includes both tests and imaging by using medicine or exercise to increase your heart rate.
5. Cardiac Catheterization – A short catheter is guided into a vein or an artery of an arm or groin for the purpose of injecting dye. The dye allows the blood flow throughout your body to be detected of any abnormalities within the vessels and valves to and from the heart.
6. Cardio Computerized Tomograph Scan (CT) – The rotating x-ray built within a tubular shape device that you lay in. It collects pictures of your heart and chest.
7. Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – Another tubular shaped device you lay in. Producing a magnetic field crating images of your heart.
From all the results of the tests your doctor will be able to diagnose which form of cardiovascular disease you may have.
There are two population-wide interventions emplace around the world. Even with population-wide interventions, cardiovascular disease is still number one leading cause of deaths. Examples of the main interventions are:
· Comprehensive tobacco control policies
· Taxation to reduce the intake of foods that are high in fat, sugar, and salt
· Building walkways and cycle paths to increase physical activities
· Providing healthy school meals to children
Secondary preventions with those diagnosed with cardiovascular disease including diabetes are:
· Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors
There are currently two traditional ways to treat cardiovascular disease and is more in depth than just the preventions mentioned above:
a. Antiarrhythmics – slow down the electrical impulses so the heartbeat becomes regularly again
b. Anticoagulants (blood thinners) – they prevent blood clots; they do not break up clots that have already formed but can prevent them from enlarging
c. Beta-blockers – lowers your heart rate and blood pressure
d. Diuretics – treat high blood pressure and heart failure by helping the kidneys produce more urine
e. Nitroglycerin – Prevent angina, limit the number of angina attacks, relieve the pain of current angina attack, or treat symptoms of heart failure
f. Statins – Cholesterol-lowering, prevent plaque build-up
2. Surgeries (these are costly):
a. Atherectomy – Cut plaque build-up in the arteries. A stint maybe inserted to keep the artery open. Is helpful for blockages in vessels or where arteries branch
b. Cardioversion Therapy – Restores heart rhythm (like defibrillation except with lower electricity)
c. Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery – Improves blood flow to the heart by using another vessel to bypass the blockage
d. Heart Valve Surgery – Open heart surgery that repairs or replaces a valve that is not working
e. Implantable Pacemaker – An implant that regulates the heart rate and rhythm
f. Mechanical Assist Device – A man made device to temporarily recreate the pumping action of the heart
There are many studies still to this day trying to get grips on the prognosis of cardiovascular disease. The most we know right now, the prognosis depends on the individual circumstance regarding their age, lifestyle, and environment. Although one paper on The Emerging Role of Metabolomics in the Diagnosis and Prognosis of Cardiovascular Disease struck an interest. It states that the metabolism is a key factor to cardio pathologies along with two similar pathologies occurring at the same time. This can alter systemic and myocardial metabolism whereby worsening the function and health outcomes. Integration of this study will give more insight into the interactions of metabolites, proteins, genes, and disease states allowing advancement in personalized medicine. Not only do we gain more insight, this study will facilitate quick, cost effective, and targeted strategies to prevent pathological complications and the potential to find new pathways.
Let us talk about prevention. Naturopathic alternative care exceeds the western traditional medical care as studies demonstrate that the death rate decreased by half and the risk decreased by one third https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3921268/, massage lowers blood pressure thus prevention to cardiovascular disease https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3733180/, citronellal prevents endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis in rats https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30367511/, studies prove bergamot has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative properties to prevent cardiovascular diseases https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30847114/, and the list goes on as there are many studies on essential oils for the prevention of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and antidiabetic agents https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17199238/.
There are three essential oils that deserve to be taken a closer look at. All three have a history dating back to early civilization as well as modern studies supporting the positive effects they have on the Circulatory System (Cardiovascular System). Here are the names and a brief description of these oils:
1. Sweet Marjoram – It has a warm – spicy and woody odor with a reminiscent of nutmeg and cardamom. This oil can be used in a full body or foot bath, topically, and through inhalation. It possesses analgesic, antispasmodic, balancing, calming, antiviral, bactericidal, antifungal, antioxidant, and antiseptic properties. With these properties it aids in addictions, depression, balancing the para-sympathetic nerves, underactive thyroid, decrease high blood pressure, balancing the heart and circulation, vasodilatory, arthritis, bruising due to blood flow, muscle aches, rheumatism, and insomnia. Smooths flow of Qi in chest which calms and regulates the heart making it useful for heart palpitations, tachycardia, and hypertension.
2. Neroli – Slightly water soluble intense floral scent. Can be used in a full body or foot bath, topically, and through inhalation. Traditionally this oil is used for gastrointestinal complaints, nervous conditions, gout, sore throats, sedative, and for sleeplessness. It is effective in diminishing the amplitude of heart contractions, palpitations, and other cardiac spasms as well as regulate the heart rhythm. Studies demonstrate a decrease in symptoms associated with post-cardiac surgery, blood pressure and cramp-like nervous heart conditions.
3. May Chang – A lemon scent that is only recommended for topical or inhalation. Has analgesic, antinociceptive and inflammatory actions, antimicrobial and antifungal components, and furthermore it can relieve pain and swelling. An excellent treatment for coronary heart disease along with high blood pressure as studies show an increase in blood flow. Other studies have proved a reduction in arrythmias from 15 minutes to 6.5 minutes when they were studying the comparison between beta-blockers, antihypertensive and anti-anginal drugs.
All three oils can be blended with fractionated coconut oil and applied through massage to create a powerhouse strategy to combat and prevent cardiovascular disease. (The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy Third Edition Vol 1 – Foundations & Materia Medica by Salvatore Battaglia; Essential Oils A Comprehensive Handbook for Aromatic Therapy – Jennifer Peace Rhind)
Note: Please do not mix or use essential oils unless directed by a certified aromatherapist
Cardiovascular disease is a disease not to take lightly; it is a silent killer. It is our responsibility to prevent this disease as it mainly occurs due to our lifestyle choices. There are multiple resources to quit smoking and or alcohol consumption and become aware of our physical activity and eating habits. We can use holistic practices such as aromatherapy, massage, and herbs to decrease our risk, prevent, and correct what we have already done to our bodies.