Heart disease most commonly is an accumulation of unhealthy lifestyle choices and is therefore preventable. Heart disease is also treatable after the fact, with changes in diet and level of physical activity.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), heart disease represents one-sixth of the deaths in the U.S. each year, when there are 1,255,000 new or recurrent incidences of coronary attacks. These result in death 34 percent of the time — that’s 426,700 preventable deaths! Statistically, men are slightly more prone to heart disease than women, and roughly one-third of the U.S. population has some sort of cardiovascular disease.
Anatomy and Physiology of the Heart in a Nutshell:
- The heart maintains the circulation of blood throughout the body.
- The heart is a muscular pump divided into four chambers pumping blood: two in, two out.
- The heart is located behind the sternum, slightly to the left of center in the chest, between the lungs.
- The cardiac muscle is involuntary, which means it is not under conscious control.
- Although it is innervated by the autonomic nervous system (ANS), the heart has an intrinsic conduction system controlling rhythm. The ANS controls the rate.
Additional factors influencing heart disease:
- Chemicals can increase or decrease heart rate. For example, epinephrine released in response to stress will increase heart rate, an increase in calcium will strengthen cardiac muscle and increase heart rate, and an increase in both potassium and sodium can lower heart rate.
- Temperature: Heat increases heart rate and cold decreases heart rate.
- Emotions: Fear, anger, and anxiety are all stressors that increase heart rate.
- Gender: Women’s hearts beat faster.
Diseases of the Heart in a Nutshell
- Birth defects: many corrected with surgical intervention.
- Electrical conduction (arrythmias): second most common cause, affecting the valves. Very treatable with drugs and interventions that reset rhythm.
- Blood circulation (coronary): caused due to blockage in the heart’s blood vessels. Majority of heart disease, divided into two main types, treated with surgery and drugs:
- Angina Pectoris occurs over time with decreased oxygen supply to the cardiac muscle, weakening the muscle cells. Stress and physical exertion after a heavy meal are the major causes. Chest pain is the chief complaint.
- Myocardial Infarction is a heart attack due to the death of tissue, causing loss of muscle strength and ability to function at all.
- Infection: bacteria, virus, fungus, or parasite affect one of the three layers of the heart tissue (pericardium, myocardium, endocardium).
Signs and Symptoms in a Nutshell
Electrical System Malfunction
- Sudden loss of responsiveness
- Erratic breathing
- Treatment: CPR and ER defibrillator
- Occurrence: 295,000 per year in the U.S.; 95 percent die before reaching the hospital.
Blood Supply Blockage
- Chest discomfort: pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the body: one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Others: cold sweat, nausea, lightheaded. Additionally, in women, heart flutters, fatigue, cough, loss of appetite, and heartburn are symptoms that should be taken seriously if they persist.
What You Can Do to Prevent Heart Disease
Many forms of heart disease can be prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices:
- MOVE: a minimum of moderate exercise 30 minutes a day, 3-5 times per week.
- EAT WELL: quality nutrition to lower cholesterol and blood pressure:
- Consume more plant food as grains, vegetables, fruit, beans and legumes.
- Consume healthy oils as seeds and nuts, and cook with cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil.
- Consume alcohol in moderation: 1 drink per day for women, 2 drinks for men.
- QUIT SMOKING
- REDUCE STRESS
At Mountaintop Acupuncture, we help you implement these preventive measures as our provided standard of care.
In the U.S. in 2011, people on the whole don’t yet know acupuncture and its herbal medicine is a proven, successful intervention that can treat many diseases before they have gone too far.
While it is imperative you visit your western medicine doctor, eastern medicine is there for you to take advantage of. If you catch symptoms as they arise and before they take hold, you can avoid ever having a confirmed diagnosis!
At Mountaintop Acupuncture, we focus on your diet and encourage exercising as part of your treatment. We can also help you reduce stress and quit smoking, acting as advocates by exploring ways to cope with life’s curves with you, to prevent heart disease altogether.
If you have questions and concerns about acupuncture treatment, we offer a free 20-minute phone session: click here for contact information to call or e-mail us. We practice at The Highlands Ranch Medical Pavilion in Littleton, Colorado.
Insurance is welcome and accepted.