Ayurvedic treatment for Coronary artery disease

Coronary artery disease

Know More on Cardiology

  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
  • FAQS
  • References

Definition

Coronary artery disease Ayurvedic treatment

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease.1 In India, over one fifth deaths occur due to CAD.  There are an estimated 45 million CAD patients in India. An increasing number of young Indians are falling prey to it.2

 CAD occurs when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed due to buildup of cholesterol and other material, on their inner walls. As these deposits continue to grow, less blood can flow through the arteries causing less blood and oxygen reaching the heart muscles. This can lead to chest pain or heart attack. Over a period of time, CAD weaken heart muscles and contribute to heart failure or arrhythmias (abnormal beating of heart).1

CAD may be considered as Krimija hrida roga in Ayurveda. A person who has heart disease due to vitiation of all three doshas (tridoshaja) and he consumes food rich in sesame (til oil) oil, milk and its products, and high sugar products avoiding physical activity may develop the condition. These outgrowths liquefy in blood and gives rise to growth of various worms that eventually eat up the heart. 3

Ayurved scholars have also mentioned that diet, lifestyle and psychological factors like anger and emotion are causative agents of CAD and patients who are diagnosed or wants to prevent coronary artery disease should keep a check on all these factors.2

Causes

Coronary artery disease

CAD begins with injury to the inner layer of a coronary artery, which may occur sometimes as early as childhood. The factors causing damage include:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes or insulin resistance
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Symptoms

Coronary artery disease

Initially reduced blood flow will not show any symptoms, but as plaque continue to build up in the arteries the following signs and symptoms may develop:

  • Chest pain (angina) – pressure or tightness in the chest while performing a strenuous activity. The pain usually goes away within minutes after stopping the stressful activity.
  • Shortness of breath or extreme fatigue with exertion.
  • Heart attack.A completely blocked coronary artery may cause a heart attack. The signs and symptoms include crushing pressure in chest and pain in shoulder or arm, sometimes with shortness of breath and sweating.

Diagnosis

Coronary artery disease

Your doctor will thoroughly examine you and take a history of your signs and symptoms. He may also ask you to undergo few tests to confirm the diagnosis:

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is usually diagnosed after performing the following tests.

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Exercise stress tests
  • X-rays
  • Echocardiogram
  • Blood tests
  • Coronary angiography 
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans 
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scans

Management

Coronary artery disease

As heart is a special organ which takes care of blood circulation, Ayurveda gives special focus to protect the heart from various factors that may later be responsible for developing various heart diseases. It talks about avoiding stress causing factors and promote eating diet that is protects heart and promotes heart health. There are few effective herbs mentioned as hridya mahakashaya which are specific to heart health. A carefully designed and customized shodhana (bio purification) may also be beneficial for heart disease.3

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. Take light vegetarian meals
  • Avoid saturated fats in diet (animal fats and hydrogenated vegetable oils), fried food
  • Avoid excess salt, sugar, coffee, alcohol, tobacco

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

  • Being physically active, avoid smoking, keeping a healthy weight, and maintaining your blood cholesterol and blood pressure at proper levels.
  • Rhythmic breathing and meditation
  • Practice Asanas such as dandasana, janusirsana, paschimottanasana, tadasana

 

Figure 4 Tadasana

Figure 2 Janusirasana

Figure 1 Dandasana

Figure 3 Paschimottanasana

 

FAQS

Coronary artery disease
  1. What is angina?

Angina is a chest pain that occurs when the blood supply to the heart muscles is restricted. It happens when the arteries supplying the heart become hardened and narrowed due to build-up of fatty substances known as plaques. This restricts the blood supply to the heart and triggers the symptoms of angina. Angina attack is the pain mostly triggered by physical activity or stress and typically only lasts for a few minutes. There are two main types of angina. During stable angina, the attacks occur due to obvious trigger (such as exercise) and improve with medication and rest, while in unstable angina, the attacks are unpredictable, occurring with no obvious trigger and continuing despite resting. Angina is more common in older adults, affecting men more than women.

In Sanskrit, angina is derived from two words – hriday meaning ‘heart’ and shool meaning ‘thorn’. So hritshoola means ‘a thorn in the heart’. In angina, Ama accumulates in Hirdayvahi channels and cause blockage. Due to the blockage of heart channels Vata dosha is aggravated. Vata symbolizes air or wind. It is dry, mobile, and cool in nature and it causes pain in heart.

  1. What can I do to prevent/manage angina?

Ayurveda gives following tips to prevent/manage angina:

  • Avoid fatty foods like fried food, milk products such as butter and cheese, full cream milk, oils, etc.
  • Include fermented milk products like curds in diet
  • Use only vegetable oils for cooking like sunflower, olive, groundnut and rapeseed oils.
  • Avoid red meats such as mutton, beef and pork.
  • Poultry and fish are beneficial. Fishes with high body oil content must be preferred. Avoid canned fish.
  • Mild exercise such as walking, is recommended in patients which good exertion tolerance and stable angina.
  • Avoid competitive exercising.
  • Meditation and shavasana help restore the tranquility, peace and manage stress
  • Pranayam (breathing exercise) should be practiced.
  1. What are the causes of high cholesterol?

Many different factors can contribute to high blood cholesterol. They include:

  • Unhealthy diet
  • Lack of exercise or physical activity
  • Obesity
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and smoking
  • Underlying conditions like kidney disease, liver disease, hypothyroidism
  • Family history of early coronary heart disease, stroke or cholesterol-related condition
  1. What physical activities can help better my cholesterol?

Ayurveda recommends following activities to keep your cholesterol in check:

  • Yoga asanas and surya namaskara should be performed twice daily for ten minutes each.
  • Pranayama, or yogic breathing exercises, helps digestion and cleans the srotas, or channels.
  • Sleeping during the day, causes the metabolism to slow and the srotas or channels to fill with Ama. Wake up before six o'clock, and avoid daytime naps.
  • Eat meals at the same time every day, and plan to eat the largest meal at lunchtime, when digestion is strong.
  • Eat light to avoid indigestion at night
  • Transcendental Meditation technique reduces stress and improves mental clarity, making it easier to follow a healthy diet and make healthy lifestyle.
  1. What is atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is a serious condition wherein arteries become clogged with fatty substances called plaques, or atheroma. It causes the arteries to harden and narrow, restricting the blood flow and oxygen supply to vital organs, and increasing the risk of blood clots that could potentially block the flow of blood to the heart or brain. Atherosclerosis may lead to life-threatening problems such as heart attacks and strokes.

According to Ayurveda, in atherosclerosis there is an increased Vata in blood vessels causing its degeneration thus making it hard, thin, and rough. Deposits of lipids and calcium represent increase in Kapha (water & earth element) in the degenerated vessels resulting in irregular thickening of blood vessels.

  1. What are the causes of atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is a slow, progressive disease. The exact cause is unknown but the damage may be caused by:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • High triglycerides, a type of fat (lipid) in your blood
  • Smoking and other sources of tobacco
  • Insulin resistance, obesity or diabetes
  • Inflammation from diseases, such as arthritis, lupus or infections, or inflammation of unknown cause
  1. What is coronary artery disease?

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. In India, over one fifth deaths occur due to CAD. There are an estimated 45 million CAD patients in India. An increasing number of young Indians are falling prey to it.

CAD occurs when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed due to buildup of cholesterol and other material, on their inner walls. As these deposits continue to grow, less blood can flow through the arteries causing less blood and oxygen reaching the heart muscles. This can lead to chest pain or heart attack. Over a period of time, CAD weaken heart muscles and contribute to heart failure or arrhythmias (abnormal beating of heart).

Ayurved scholars have mentioned that diet, anger and emotion are causative agents of CAD and patients who are diagnosed or wants to prevent coronary artery disease should keep a check on all these factors.

  1. What puts me at risk of coronary artery disease?

CAD begins with injury to the inner layer of a coronary artery, which may occur sometimes as early as childhood. The damage may be caused by various factors, including:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes or insulin resistance
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  1. What kind of exercises I can do to reduce blood pressure?

Ayurveda recommends the following exercises to manage and help reduce blood pressure:

  • Weight reduction and regular aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, jogging running etc.
  • Sarvanga Abhangya (Massage) with specially formulated oils helps to increase elasticity and flexibility. It correct and enhance the blood flow in healthy manners
  • Upvasa (fasting), Yoga, Meditation and Gayatri or Omkara uchhara have significant role in management of hypertension
  1. How can one identify if one has stroke/brain attack?

The signs and symptoms of a stroke vary from person to person. Main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the word FAST: Face-Arms-Speech-Time.

  • Face – the face may have dropped on one side; the person may not be able to smile or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
  • Arms – the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there.
  • Speech – their speech may be slurred or the person may not be able to talk at all.
  • Time – dial the hospital immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms

References

Coronary artery disease
  1. Coronary Artery Disease. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/coronaryarterydisease.html
  2. Gaddamwar SD. Ayurvedic Management of Coronary Artery Disease - A Review. International Journal of Ayurvedic Medicine, 2014, 5(3), 254-256
  3. Lokhande at al. Natural remedies for heart diseases. IJTK 5(3)2006.
  4. Charak samhita trimarmiya chikista. Chaukhambha bharati academy. Varanasi 221001. Reprint 2011.
  5. Rastogi S. Chapter 9: Ayurvedic approach to cardiovascular diseases: delineating the literary and clinical evidences; In: Evidence based practice in complementary and alternative medicine. Springer – Heidelberg 2012
  6. Coronary artery disease - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic 2015. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronary-artery-disease/symptoms-causes/dxc-20165314
  7. Coronary heart disease – Diagnosis. NHS 2015. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Coronary-heart-disease/Pages/Diagnosis.aspx
  8. Vaidya Vasant Patil, Jasmine Japee, Reena. Atreya’s guide to Ayurveda Practice

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