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Heart Disease: THE Biggest Killer in the Western World
By Liz Barrington, Natural Body Healing

 

Did you know that heart disease is the biggest killer in the UK; it claims one adult life every 3 minutes, and is blamed for nearly two-fifths of the deaths in people aged 75 and under. Yet, this condition doesn’t just affect the UK; circulatory disease is widespread across the Western world. 

 

Every year, approximately 25% of all deaths in the US occur from heart attacks, and the majority of these are attributable to hardening of the arteries.  In addition to heart attacks, a poor circulatory system can lead to strokes, kidney disease, varicose veins, blood clots and a variety of other conditions that can kill or severely limit the enjoyment of life.

 

The 3 major factors that contribute to circulatory problems are high blood pressure (hypertension), high levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in the bloodstream, and also smoking.

 

Blood pressure equipment measures how much the heart contracts (systolic pressure) and how much the arteries contract (diastolic pressure) and these values constantly change throughout the day.  For example, readings rise sharply in the early morning and decline during the late morning.  They then rise again in the afternoon and finally drop to a low level at night.  Values can also vary within a short period of time and they also depend upon your current level of activity, stress and whether you've just eaten something. 

 

Moreover, many people have a different blood pressure reading when they measure it at home because they tend to be more relaxed than when at the doctor's surgery.  It's recommended therefore that you buy yourself a blood pressure monitor so that you can provide your doctor with valuable information on your normal blood pressure values and pulse rates, rather than elevated levels obtained by the doctor.

 

According to the World Health Organisation, the standard blood pressure values at resting pulse should be 140 (systolic reading) over 90 (diastolic reading) for industrialised societies.  However, many health specialists believe that this is still too high, and the ideal reading should actually be 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic).  It's important that you keep an eye on this barometer of health on a regular basis, and incorporate adjustments in your diet and lifestyle accordingly.

 

Poor nutrition is indeed linked directly to hypertension and high levels of triglycerides and cholesterol.  Other factors include obesity, hereditary factors and emotional stress.  Unfortunately the threat of problems significantly increases when more than one of these factors is present.

 

Optimum health of the vital circulatory system is absolutely essential as it’s responsible for providing a continuous supply of nutrients and oxygen into every cell in the body.  Simultaneously, our circulatory system collects carbon dioxide, toxins and other waste material produced by the cells and then carries them away for removal out of the body.

 

The circulatory system accomplishes this mammoth task through a network of nearly 60,000 miles of blood vessels and a fist-sized ‘pump’ of an organ – the heart, which drives more than 2,000 gallons of blood through its chambers every day.

 

There are 3 types of blood vessels in the body: arteries, veins and capillariesArteries are thick-walled vessels that carry blood from the heart to all parts of the body.  Each time your heart beats, the elasticised walls of the arteries swell to make room for the blood that’s forced into them.  The muscles inside the walls then squeeze the blood (contract) to force it to move along the capillaries. 

 

If the arteries lose their elasticity (called ‘arteriosclerosis’ or hardening of the arteries), the heart has to work that much harder to keep the blood circulating.  Arteriosclerosis is a complex process that develops over a considerable time; it appears to begin in childhood and progress with ageing.

 

Fatty deposits called plaques can accumulate on the walls of any of our arteries; they gather into clusters and adhere to the inside of the arterial wall which therefore narrows the artery diameter to the point where the blood supply becomes inadequate and tissue damage can occur.  Platelets play an important role in heart disease; when platelets clump together, they release compounds, including prostaglandins that significantly contribute to the plaque formation.

 

Veins are thin-walled blood vessels and their role is to return blood from the body to the heart.  Many larger veins have valves to prevent a back-flow of blood.  If these valves experience prolonged or excessive pressure, veins can become overstretched, and the valves may be destroyed or become ineffective, resulting in problems such as varicose veins, haemorrhoids etc.

 

Capillaries are the smallest blood vessels in the body and they connect the arteries to the veins.  Because capillaries are extremely small and have permeable walls, it’s possible for capillaries to reach nearly every cell in the body and to transfer substances, including important nutrients to and from the tissues.

 

The heart is made up of muscles that facilitate its pumping action and comprises of 4 chambers.  The upper chambers are referred to as the ‘atria’ and the lower chambers are referred to as ‘ventricles’.

 

Oxygen-poor blood enters the right atrium and moves through it into the right ventricle.  From there, blood is sent via the pulmonary arteries to the lungs so that it can pick up a fresh supply of oxygen.  Once it has taken on a supply of oxygen, oxygen-rich blood then moves through the pulmonary veins, first to the left atrium and then to the left ventricle.  This cycle is performed continuously.

 

A healthy heart has a regular beat, although the rate can vary depending on several factors including your age, sex, level of physical activity and your current state of emotions.  Like a machine, if the heart is overworked and is not properly maintained, it cannot function optimally which can lead to serious health problems.

 

For the circulatory system to function properly, the heart must be strong.  In addition, the vessels must be capable of safely transporting optimal amounts of blood, and the blood itself must be healthy.  Serious problems can arise when these 3 conditions are not met, and these problems can include high blood pressure, arterial plaque, stress, poor circulation, heart disease and high cholesterol.

 

The best treatment in any heart disease is PREVENTION, which will probably mean incorporating a healthier diet and exercise regime into your life-style.  We recommend the following to prevent heart disease:

  • Eat healthier.  Reduce the amount of high animal fat that you eat ie. saturated fats found in dairy, red meat, processed meats and fried foods.  Increase your consumption of oily fish and chicken, oats, grains, pulses, eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholesome foods and importantly, considerably boost your fibre intake.  Apart from making bowel movements easier with less strain on your body, fibre also helps absorb some of the cholesterol that your body is trying to eliminate.  Always remember to drink plenty of water.

  • Salt is the largest single contributor to high blood pressure.  Cut out your salt intake (especially your consumption of ‘table salt’), salty snacks and reduce your intake of ready-made processed foods.  Your blood pressure should start dropping within a few days if you do this.  If you absolutely need a little salt with your food, then change to using iodised sea salt, or better still, squeeze some lemon or lime over your food to add a little extra flavouring.

  • Reduce your consumption of caffeine, alcohol and any other stimulant that can contribute to the raising of blood pressure.  Please note, ONE regular glass of red wine daily can have beneficial health effects on the heart, due to its high antioxidant properties.

  • Visit your doctor to have regular check-ups for your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

  • Undertake regular cardiovascular exercise – as this strengthens the heart and helps lower cholesterol.  Never exercise to the point of exhaustion which can damage your heart.  No matter what your age, always start exercise slowly, gradually increasing your pace and distance.  Brisk walking and swimming are excellent activities that can be taken at your own pace.

  • Quit smoking – now!  Apart from damaging your lungs, the bad breath, the extra toxins and excessive free radical damage that causes so much extra stress on your body including your heart; smoking also increases platelet stickiness and adhesion.  So, if you smoke, you have a greater chance of suffering a heart attack or a stroke.

  • Don’t carry a heavy heart!  Stress, sadness, loneliness and isolation have all been implicated in the development of heart disease.  If you’re stressed, take up meditation, yoga, pilates, tai-chi, deep breathing and other relaxation techniques that can be incorporated into your daily regime that can help ease the effect of stress on the body.  'Nutri-Calm' is a great natural stress-relieving supplement.  If you do feel isolated, try joining volunteer activities, local groups of interest, classes or other hobbies, make new friends and try to get more out of life. 

Natural herbal supplements can be very effective in helping to keep the circulatory system healthy; however, depending on your own condition, it can take time before you start to feel the benefits.  So, be patient! 

 

Heart disease is not a condition to be taken lightly.  Hardening of the arteries or high cholesterol levels have accumulated over a long period of time, so they will not disappear over night! 

 

Always consult your doctor before undertaking any herbal supplements for heart disease, and do not change your regimen of prescription, or other pharmaceutical drugs without your doctor’s supervision.

 

Here are some Nature’s Sunshine supplements that you may wish to consider in conjunction with your Doctor, if you currently have heart disease or if you have a family history of circulatory problems:

 

For Overall Heart Health:

 

'Mega-Chel' – this is our amazing ‘key’ product for the heart and circulatory system.  It is a high-potency vitamin and mineral supplement that contains herbs, amino acids and other nutrients designed to benefit the entire circulatory system including the arteries, veins, capillaries, tissues and organs.  This supplement can also help if you suffer with high blood pressure, cold hands and feet and arteriosclerosis/hardening of the arteries.  This supplement helps with the overall strengthening of the heart muscle, boosting its efficiency in using oxygen and energy, and assists in dilating coronary arteries.  The combination also contains vitamins C and B6, demonstrated to reduce platelet adhesion and aggregation, helping to ‘dissolve’ plaques that are already present.

 

'Co-Q10 Plus' – this is a unique product containing a vitamin-like substance called co-enzyme Q10.  An enzyme can induce chemical changes in other substances without being changed itself.  Enzymes are made up of 2 parts—a protein portion and a co-factor portion consisting of minerals or vitamins.   Many studies confirm that Co-Q10 supports cardiac function.  Co-Q10 helps produce cellular energy and acts as an antioxidant.  As an antioxidant, Co-Q10 scavenges free radicals, protects cardiac cells and promotes the re-generation of Vitamin E, another heart-healthy antioxidant.  Co-Q10 can also help with heart failure, heart attack prevention and recovery, high blood pressure, gum disease, migraine and Parkinson's Disease.

 

'Zambroza' - Nature's Sunshine has harvested the most beneficial fruits and natural extracts from around the world and combined them into this unique delicious, powerful nutritious juice which has been specially formulated to neutralise excess free radicals.  Zambroza's synergistic blend of ten powerful ingredients include mangosteen, wolfberry (goji berry), apple extract, blueberry, concord grape, grape seed, grape skin, green tea, red berry and raspberry. Zambroza can help speed up the healing of arterial injuries that often lead to the accumulation of plaque.  This power-house of antioxidants helps the body fight the effects of ageing, counters inflammation caused by excess free radicals, supports the cardiovascular system, promotes energy, helps maintain healthy cell growth and greatly enhances the immune system.  Independent research confirms that Zambroza is the World’s Most Powerful Antioxidant Drink that you can buy.

 

Omega 3 or ‘Flaxseed Oil are both rich sources of ‘Essential Fatty Acids’ which are fats that have to be taken externally through the diet because the body cannot manufacture them.  Essential Fatty Acids are vital to the body because they are necessary in keeping our cell membranes healthy and they form a large component of the nervous system within the brain and in the retina.  They are especially good for the heart.  Supportive research shows that the consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.   The best sources of Omega 3 are found in high quality fish oils which can easily be assimilated in the body.  Flaxseed oil is also a very good source, especially for vegans, and it has no after-taste.

 

LOCLO’ or ‘Psyllium Hulls Combination’ provides additional bulk to the diet to ensure toxins are swiftly removed from the body which also helps to reduce our internal stress levels.  Also fibre helps to reduce total cholesterol and LDL levels in the body because it binds with dietary cholesterol and fat to prevent their absorption. 

 

'High-Potency Garlic' – Garlic contains substances that prevent platelets from sticking together, lowers total cholesterol, LDL levels, triglycerides (a type of blood fat), whilst increasing ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels.  Garlic also promotes the breakdown of certain types of blood clots and lowers blood pressure.  Recent technological breakthroughs have made it possible to manufacture odourless garlic.  The question is - does it retain the potency of fresh garlic?  Studies have shown that it doesn't and therefore almost all odourless garlic supplements do not have any real potency.


Nature's Sunshine offers you the finest and most potent garlic on the market with a special coating that helps control the garlic's odour. When broken open, these tablets have a strong garlic odour—unlike other ‘odourless’ garlic products.  Trade-secret processing and careful preparation of each tablet gives NSP’s High-Potency Garlic a special locked-in freshness coating.  It contains chlorophyll, which controls odour whilst assuring a long, effective shelf-life.  

 

Because the tablet does not break down for absorption until it reaches the small intestine, you receive the full nutritional value of garlic without the undesirable taste.  Moreover, comparing total allicin potential (TAP) with other leading brands shows that Nature's Sunshine leads the pack. NSP’s High-Potency Garlic is valued above all others for its great potency and superb quality. One 400 mg tablet equals 1,200 mg of fresh garlic, roughly equal to one clove.

 

'Gingko & Hawthorn Combination' – this supplement contains Ginkgo Biloba leaves and Hawthorn Berries, used in many cultures to support the circulatory system because it increases blood circulation and oxygen utilisation in the heart muscle.  Much scientific research has confirmed the traditional value of ginkgo in the treatment of heart disease.  It’s an antioxidant; it enhances heart efficiency and increases blood supply to the extremities.  It also has a tonic effect on the blood vessels, gradually improving their health.  It also prevents platelets from sticking together and may be particularly helpful if arteriosclerosis has affected brain function or arteries in the arms or legs. 

 

Hawthorn Berries dilate coronary arteries, thus they increase the blood supply to the heart.  It also helps improve metabolic processes in the heart, including oxygenation and energy production.  It also decreases lactic acid - the waste product of exertion that causes muscle pain, and it also strengthens artery walls.  It’s an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and it reduces cholesterol.  This product is great if you have a family or personal history of heart disease, or a medical diagnosis of cardiac problems.  This Ginkgo & Hawthorn combination is very popular in Europe.

 

IMPORTANT: For those taking blood pressure/blood thinning medication - please read on: Hawthorn can decrease blood pressure; therefore if you are already taking several blood pressure medications, you should monitor your blood pressure once your Doctor has given you the OK to start taking this product.  

 

If you are already taking aspirin or blood-thinning medication – the Ginkgo may exacerbate blood-thinning action. Therefore, you can still take this product once your Doctor has given you the go-ahead, but you should monitor yourself for signs of undue bleeding such as bruising too easily.  If this happens, you should consult your Doctor – perhaps he will agree to reduce the levels of aspirin or blood-thinning medication that you are taking.

 

Other useful supporting supplements for good heart health include: Calcium Magnesium and Capsicum & Garlic with Parsley.

 

 

Also, specifically for 1) High Cholesterol and 2) Vascular Problems, such as varicose veins, haemorrhoids or spider veins:

 

1) 'Cholester-Reg II' - This combination of policosanol, phytosterol (plant sterols), inositol nicotinate (a form of niacin), resveratrol and artichoke powder offers a host of benefits to the heart and the circulatory system. These include maintaining cholesterol levels that are already in the normal range, protection of the heart, antioxidant properties, maintaining already-normal platelet aggregation levels and more.

 

2) 'Horse Chestnut and Butcher’s Broom Combination' - this is a combination of 6 powerful herbs and nutrients that work together to fortify and nourish the overall health, strength and resilience of veins. This formula not only improves appearance, but supports optimal blood flow to the heart, thereby relieving fluid congestion in the legs and minimising the occurrence of damaged or weakened vessels that obstruct proper circulation.  Its nutrients improve the strength, tone and function of veins.  Continued use of this supplement may improve haemorrhoid conditions and minimise the appearance of varicose and spider veins.

 

IMPORTANT REMINDER:

Heart disease is a VERY serious, potentially life-threatening condition which requires you to see your doctor or cardiologist on a regular basis.  Herbal and nutritional supplements can help to prevent and treat heart disease.  However, if you’re presently taking medication for a heart condition, you should work with your doctor and a professional herbalist to develop a personalised programme for you, because many herbs interact with heart medications. 

 

You should NEVER stop taking prescription medication without first consulting your doctor.  If you or your Doctor requires our assistance to verify whether our supplements will interfere with your medication, please Contact Us.  We have access to our own in-house team of pharmacists who fully understand which drugs are available worldwide and how our herbs interact with each.

 

The most important thing that you can do to help strengthen your circulatory system is to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  It’s all about putting your life into perspective, taking responsibility and looking after yourself.  At the end of the day, your own health should be your highest priority, because without good heart health, you may not be able to fulfil your own personal dreams and aspirations. 

 

If you’re more relaxed, you eat properly and exercise regularly and you’ve got more balance in your life, you’ll become much healthier and happier.  You only have one heart, which has to last your entire lifetime - so remember to look after it.

 

The nutritional supplement product links stated in this article can only be purchased from this website in UK and in Europe; however all other health product links stated on this page are available worldwide from Natural Body Healing.  


The above information should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional.

 


 

 

 

 

 

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