Over the past few decades, significant strides have been made in the advancement of medical technology, greatly improving the efficacy and success rates from heart surgery. Nevertheless, heart surgery is far from ideal for every heart patient and the procedure is fraught with risks. As is the case with any invasive surgical procedure, there is a threat of excessive bleeding, wound infection, organ failure, and blood clotting. Of course, the severity of the risk will vary, depending on your health status and the type of surgery involved.
Ayurvedic Alternatives to Heart Surgery
Although cardiac surgery can be life-saving in certain situations, it is often over-prescribed at great risk to patients. In fact, a report published in the British Medical Journal reveals that as many as 50% of heart surgeries performed at a hospital were unnecessary, while an estimated 25% were performed on patients with no serious heart problems! As pointed out by leading cardiologists, angioplasty and bypass surgery is not always necessary, and treatment with medication is in fact advisable for blockages of less than 70%. Some of the most promising treatments to avoid the need for surgery include the use of age-old Ayurvedic therapies.
Hrid Basti to Improve Blood Flow
The main cause of ischemic heart disease is impaired blood flow to the heart muscles, which occurs as a result of arterial narrowing and the formation of blockages. Researchers have found that Ayurvedic practices like Hrid Basti can improve local blood flow. Hrid Basti is a practice in which a warm herbal oil decoction is applied topically. This promotes vasodilation of the blood vessels that improves heart flow, reducing spasms of the intercostal muscles.
Yoga to Improve Aerobic Function
Yoga is highly regarded by health care experts as one of the best ways to improve cardiorespiratory function because of its distinctive blend of yoga asanas and breathing techniques. This effect on the circulatory system improves the heart’s ability to supply blood to the various bodily organs. Research clearly demonstrates that the practice of yoga regularly, especially with pranayamas, improves VO2 max or the rate of oxygen uptake, which is an important parameter in heart health.
Heart Failure Reversal Therapy (HFRT)
An innovative therapy, developed by researchers at India’s Madhavbaug hospitals, HFRT combines state-of-the-art diagnostics with scientific Ayurveda principles, diet, and physiotherapy. A study conducted in chronic heart failure patients showed that the treatment can benefit patients when used as an adjunct to standard treatments. The therapy helps to increase exercise tolerance and aerobic capacity, promoting an enhancement of VO2peak (peak oxygen uptake) by 45.34%. This is significant, as an increase in VO2peak of just 1-unit is associated with a 15% reduction in the risk of fatality.
As the name suggests, this conservative approach to heart care focuses on rehabilitation and recovery to strengthen the heart muscles and lower the risk of future incidents. Reputed cardiac hospitals offer cardiac rehabilitation programs that typically include exercise to boost cardiovascular health, guidance and advice on nutrition and other behaviours that affect heart health, such as smoking. An often overlooked aspect of heart disease prevention and management is stress reduction. Counselling in rehabilitation programs helps to tackle stress and overcome other barriers to heart healthy living.
Advice to Patients at Risk of Heart Disease
In addition to the use of innovative and non-invasive therapies for heart disease, it is important to take steps to strengthen heart function and protect heart health. Mild to moderate intensity exercise for at least 2 hours a week and healthy eating are prerequisites to good heart health. This requires cutting back on the intake of saturated and trans fats, while giving up high risk behaviours like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.