Heart Attack

The Big Heart Disease Lie

Foods you can eat with Heart Disease

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A common predictor of heart attack is angina, a pain in the chest usually experienced upon exertion or after eating. The pain occurs because there is not sufficient blood reaching the heart due to atherosclerosis or a narrowing of the arteries. The actual cause of most heart attacks is the formation of a blood clot in a coronary artery that has been narrowed by atherosclerosis. The clot blocks the supply of blood carried by the artery and that portion of the heart subsequently dies.

What happens mechanically at the time of death from a heart attack is ventricular fibrillation, an erratic heartbeat that interrupts delivery of oxygenated blood to the brain. The determining factor of whether the death of a portion of the heart muscle actually results in the whole heart expiring may depend on the condition of the autonomic nervous system that governs involuntary actions like breathing, digestion, and heartbeat. If the autonomic nervous system is in sympathetic mode, which has a contractility effect, as opposed to the parasympa-thetic, which is relaxing, fibrillation is more likely to happen. In some cases, death from heart attack is due to an artery spasm. Artery spasms occur when the sympathetic nervous system is dominant and the adrenals are overactive. Heart arrythmias or irregular heartbeats can be the result of an activated sympathetic system as well.

Genetic predisposition can play a role in heart disease but no matter what condition the arteries are in, heart disease can be halted and reversed through changes in diet and lifestyle. Stress not only raises serum cholesterol but increases the activity of the sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal glands. Smoking affects the sympathetic nervous system in the same way and damages the arteries by constricting the blood vessels, which inhibits blood circulation and the oxygenation of tissues. Excessive caffeine puts the sympathetic system and the adrenals into overdrive and should be avoided in sensitive individuals, or limited to two cups daily. Obesity puts added strain on heart muscles and high blood pressure stresses the arteries.

The diet should include the right kinds of fat and other foods to keep the arteries from devel oping atherosclerosis and to dissolve any plaque that has already formed. Omega-3 fats, found in fatty deep cold-water fish and in some vegetable sources, the highest concentrations being in walnuts, flaxseed, rapeseed (source of canola oil), and purslane, a green leafy vegetable, inhibit blood clotting, encourage activity of the parasym-pathetic nervous system, increase blood flow, protect against heart arrythmias, dissolve clots, lower blood triglycerides, raise HDL cholesterol, and have anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxi-dants and other compounds found in fruits and vegetables prevent plaque from building up on the arterial walls, reduce blood pressure, and strengthen heart muscles. Excellent blood thin-ners that prevent clotting are the omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and garlic, onions, and cayenne. Exercise is vitally important in maintaining the integrity of the arteries and heart muscles as well as facilitating the circulation of oxygenated blood.

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