In this series, I’m looking at a promising herbal agent that could influence congestive heart failure. Now that is a powerful herb. I’ll name it in part 2, but for now I’ll focus on the major issue of heart failure.
If you are over 40 years old, your chance of developing congestive heart failure (CHF) is one in five. Most patients are over 65 years old. Approximately five million people in the U.S. have CHF. Over half a million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with CHF every year, as people are living longer these days.
Here are the main risk factors for CHF:
— Alcohol and drug abuse
— Congenital heart defects
— Heart valve disease
— Irregular heart rhythm
— High blood pressure
— Coronary artery disease
— Previous heart attacks
Symptoms will depend on which side of the heart is damaged. For right-sided heart failure, the blood backs up in your veins, meaning the feet, legs, and ankles will swell. If severe enough, the swelling might extend to your lungs, liver, and your stomach. For left-sided heart failure, the blood backs up into your lungs and you will experience shortness of breath, fatigue, and coughing (particularly at night).
RECOMMENDED: Help a Distressed Heart with This
After a diagnosis, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your heart’s workload. Quit smoking. Make a concerted to effort to lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels. Keep a diet low in calories, saturated fat, and salt. Don’t drink too much alcohol. Start an aerobic exercise program (approved by a doctor).
Of course, there are drugs that can help the heart function better and enable you to exercise and do your routine chores without experiencing CHF symptoms. They include:
— Diuretics (water pills), which help the body get rid of excess fluid
— Inotropics (such as digoxin), which strengthen the heart’s ability to pump
— Vasodilators (such as nitroglycerin), which help open up narrowed blood vessels
— Calcium channel blockers, which help lower blood pressure and open blood vessels
— Beta-blockers, which increase your exercise capacity and reduce CHF symptoms
— ACE inhibitors, which dilate your blood vessels and lower blood pressure
— Angiotensin II receptor blockers, which keep blood vessels dilated and lower blood pressure
There are also a few procedures. Angioplasty, for instance, is used to open up narrowed arteries. Your cardiologist will use a long, thin tube — a catheter with a small balloon at the tip. Once in place, the balloon is inflated at the blockage site in the artery to flatten the fatty plaque. Along with it, stenting is applied. It consists of placing a mesh-like metal device into the artery narrowed by fatty plaque. It is put on the tip of the catheter and placed at the site of the blockage. Once the balloon is inflated, the stent opens. The catheter and balloon are removed and the stent stays, keeping the blood vessel open.
Sometimes major surgery is needed in the form of heart valve replacement, coronary artery bypass surgery, or heart transplantation. But stay tuned for next time: I’m about to unveil the herbal remedy that is proven to prevent it in the first place.