Considering the amount of work that the heart does–it never stops till death–it is subject to few disorders. The main causes of heart disease are the diseases of the coronary arteries (which nourish the heart muscle), high blood pressure and syphilis. Acute rheumatism–a predominantly infantile disorder–is responsible for most cases of heart disease occurring between the ages of 5 to 45 years. Other causes of heart diseases are disorders like diphtheria, diseases of the thyroid gland and certain forms of chronic lung ailments. A small, but important group of heart diseases is due to the congenital abnormalities of the heart. In those disorders for example, the malformation of the valves or cavities in the valve developed in the mother’s womb, the only recourse is to heart surgery. Certain deficiency diseases like gross lack of vitamin B cause the condition known as beri–beri.
The tendency of the heart to adjust to changes in the mode of living of its owner, known as compensation, is one of the vital factors, which prolong life in spite of maladies to which this king of organs is susceptible. This adjustment sometimes enables a person to go through life without suspecting the disease, which invade the heart. It is a common fallacy to suppose that heart disease ends in sudden death. A man with a defective heat may live long, if he is careful. It is only when the heart muscle has become weakened due to some other illness, for example, diabetes, that the end may come suddenly. Another cause of sudden death by heart failure can be ascribed to the formation of a clot in the blood (thrombosis). Hardening of the arteries may lead to failure of the heart, but in most cases that is a gradual development.
The broad categories of heart ailments are
- Those caused by inflammation of the muscle, the outer covering or the inner covering of the heart.
- Hardening of the arteries and formation of a clot which may result in sudden interruption of the functioning of the heart.
- Weakening of the muscle or degeneration of the organ because of advancing years.
- Involvement of the heart as a corollary to rheumatism or syphilis, and
- Functional disorders like tachycardia, bradycardia or hypertension and arrhythmia (lack of rhythm in the heart beat) and angina pectoris (pain in the chest, behind the sternum) and a sense of impending death.
Here we give the treatment that is to be under taken in angina pectoris. The same course of treatment would help other heart ailments too regardless of the technical name given by the doctors. Angina pectoris is characterized by a sharp pain in the chest (behind the sternum), which leaves the victim breathless. There is a sense of impending doom. It is generally caused by the constriction of the main artery that leads into the heart, because of its hardening or deposition of fat in the insides. The pain radiates to the back, the shoulders and the arms, particularly the left arm. The attack may come on after a hearty meal, a sudden over exertion or intense grief or excitement.
Lest the reader confuse a gastric pain with angina, let us make it clear that the true pain of angina has a tendency to spread to the shoulders and the arms. There is a constriction in the chest and profuse sweating. True angina must be differentiated from false or pseudo–angina which is of a nervous origin.
Drugs taken to relieve angina only help to make the condition more chronic. Patients taking recourse to traditional methods of treatment would be seen carrying tablets of nitro–glycerine to relieve the pain. The drug may be taken in an emergency but the correct treatment for angina begins when it is aimed at building the general health level of the patient.
When an attack is on, the best thing is to apply hot towels over the heart region. That will relieve the constriction around the chest by dilating (through heat) the clogged artery, which finds it difficult to pass the required amount of blood through it to the heart.
The best way to deal with heart disease is to start a cleansing diet because the cleaner the blood, the less will be chance of any toxicity building up around the region of the heart. The patient should subsist on a diet of fruit and fresh vegetables. His breakfast should consist of two oranges, an apple and grapes. For lunch he should take salad of lettuce, grated carrots and best root together with some boiled vegetables and bread made out of whole meal flour. Fats, particularly saturated ones like ghee, should be banned and only a pat of butter – preferably fresh and not the tinned variety–should be taken.
Salt should be avoided totally or taken in small quantities if the patient prefers a non–vegetarian diet they should eat steamed fish or boiled white meat. Fatty portions of meat, particularly pork, should be avoided. He should never overload his stomach because distention of the organ by flatulence or overloading may depress the diaphragm and the pain of angina may start.
Sufferers from heart disease should fast for a short period according to their bodily strength so that the system is not overtaxed. Ailments like indigestion should not be allowed to arise, as they are likely to tax the heart. A heart patient should eat so sparingly that he should feel hungry all the time. The last meal of the day should be taken at least three hours before retiring.
Gravity douche or enema should be taken recourse to in case of constipation. A short walk in the morning and evening is beneficial. Even traditional doctors have come to realize now that walking is the best exercise for a heart patient. Some of them even recommend jogging. A medical fact which should be stated here is that when you are walking the pressure on the heart is reduced to some extent because the blood going back for purification through the heart to the lungs flow back more easily when you are walking than when you are sitting or lying down. Epsom salt bath should be taken once or twice weekly.
A heart patient must have a strict regimen of living in addition to eating. He must avoid stress, worry and excessive physical strain. If he has been on drugs before turning to naturopathy, they should be gradually withdrawn. A sudden stoppage of drugs is not advised.
The above regimen should be followed in all cases of heart disease regardless of their technical name.