Hypertension (HBP) has become one of the commonest diseases, and is a great danger to life. According to one survey, 20 per cent of the adult population has the hypertension. The blood vessels thicken, lose their elasticity and the heart has to pump harder to maintain the blood circulation. Thus, it gets over-strained. If the person is obese, the heart works under greater pressure. High blood cholesterol and triglycerides are other sources of strain on the heart. Consequently, with the arteries becoming narrower, the blood supply to the heart gets reduced and result in heart attack or cardiac arrest. Blood pressure varies according to age, sex, muscular development, attitude etc. , though 120/80 mm/Hg is generally taken as normal, in some cases 140/90 mm/Hg is also considered normal. The lower the better. Some of the causes are - heredity, smoking,worry, anxiety, obesity, mental or emotional stress, tension, alcohol and taking too much salt and sugar and some unknown causes.
Measures to adopt
A balanced vegetarian diet with less salt, sugar and saturated fats, relaxation, exercises/ Yoga and brisk walk help enormously. Avoid smoking, tea,coffee, zarda, tobacco, and alcohol. Lose excess weight, eat natural food (low in fats, salt and sugar) such as fruits, vegetables, cereals, sprouts etc. and walk briskly for 40 to 60 minutes daily. Salt is an enemy. Garlic is very good for lowering blood pressure. Also drink plenty of water / juice ( 8 to 10 glasses) daily. A minimum of 7-8 hours of good sleep and complete rest from official work for one whole day in a week, besides occasional vacations are a must. Different Yogic techniques can help reduce hypertension, especially Shavasana, Chittashuddhi and Yoganidra which provide great relaxation and helps reduce the high blood pressure.
Cholesterol ( a waxy substance) is both a hero and a villain. While we cannot live without it, in excessive amount it becomes a serious threat, and often an outright killer.
The term lipid refers to fat in the body and lipoprotein is a fat transported by protein. The primary kinds of lipids in the blood are cholesterol, phospholipids and triglycerides. Within the category of cholesterol we have two major types, the bad cholesterol known as Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) and the good cholesterol known as High Density Lipoprotein (HDL). Studies show that a diet high in saturated fat may actually override the effects of drugs used to lower cholesterol levels. Therefore, without dietary modifications, it is impossible to effectively control hyper-lipidemia, a condition where the level of total lipids rises beyond the normal limits. Here Naturopathy comes in with the concept of dietary modification and results are excellent where the control is total.
A diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol, like that eaten by most Americans and West Europeans, rises the blood cholesterol. The higher the blood cholesterol level, the greater the risk of heart attacks.
With the deposition of cholesterol, the artery becomes narrow, like old water pipelines with salt deposits inside. This process is known as Atherosclerosis. If your blood cholesterol is 230 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) or higher, you should take steps to bring it down with doctor’s advice.Saturated fat is usually hard at room temperature. Major sources of saturated fat in different oils are given in the table on subsequent pages. Choose any oil among the poly-unsaturated fats from Table IV "OILS AND FATS" e.g. Safflower or sunflower oil is the best. Blood cholesterol can be reduced by dietary changes, drinking enough water and regular exercises. For the obese, the diet must be such that it is low in calories, but provide enough of essential nutrients. Avoid refined food , all animal products ( meat,sausages, egg, liver), diary products ( except non-fat products), eat plenty of unrefined starchy food , fresh food and vegetables which are rich in fibre. The nutrition experts advocate a high-fibre and low-fat diet for lowering the blood cholesterol and trygliceride levels. Gram, moong, whole grain, cereals, carrots,white raw onion, garlic, yoghurt, soya flour, grape fruit juice, butter milk, coconut water, dhaniya and barley water, leafy vegetables etc. , among Indian food items, are rich in fibre. They reduce the harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which clogs the arteries. A regular exercise programme can further help in lowering your blood cholesterol to some extent. At the same time, it may improve the high density lipoprotein (HDL) portion of your cholesterol, which appears protective.
Very low cholesterol levels may cause death due to other reasons like cancer, liver and lung diseases. Studies have shown that people with high cholesterol die of heart diseases and strokes, but an equal number of them die due to very low cholesterol levels. The average cholesterol level should be 200 mg/dl, though in the range of 180 to 230 mg/dl is also considered to be normal. A cholesterol level of 260 mg/dl and above is considered high and less than 150 mg/dl is considered very low which is also dangerous.
Our heart is the most hard working organ of the body. It beats almost a lakh times, pumping over 7,000 litres of blood everyday. It beats at an average rate of 72 per minutes. The heart is truly a living pump.
There are various types of heart diseases and the patient must consult his cardiologist immediately if he feels any symptom. One common cause of heart disease is atherosclerosis which signifies thickening,hardening and narrowing of the arteries. Major risk factors for Atherosclerosis are - diabetes, mental tension, emotional stress, hypertension, high cholesterol, smoking, heredity, obesity, lack of exercises, high uric acid level, alcohol consumption and eating too much fat like ghee, butter, meat, etc.This can lead to angina, heart attack, stroke and sudden death.
Atherosclerosis is often referred to in common language as ‘hardening of the arteries’ and although this is an entirely inaccurate way of describing what happens, ‘Narrowing of the arteries’ would be a better catch-phrase though this term also is less than accurate. Atherosclerosis is the disease by which arteries gradually accumulate fat deposits on their inner walls - thus reducing the lumen ( width) through which blood flows. The foreign deposits which adhere to the inner walls of the arteries are called "Atheromas’ or ‘Plaques.’
Fortunately , the majority of risk factors in heart diseases are controllable. You can modify your cholesterol, blood pressure, triglyceride, obesity and diabetes simply by changing your diet. You can control or learn to cope with stress, give up smoking and drinking alcohol, and start a rational programme of daily physical activity. Well, some cynics may ask, ‘What kind of life is that ? Why should I have to invite so many restrictions?’ In fact, these measures can dramatically improve your chances of avoiding Atherosclerosis related disease. You can clean out your arteries, prevent death by Atherosclerosis, and extend your active, productive years. You can eliminate your risk factors, no matter how old you are, often in just a few weeks. People who are doing this are happy and feel food, and are leading busy and fulfillng lives. So take proper care of your heart.It is in your hands.