India is home to 30 million heart patients and has the most heart failure deaths in the world. More alarmingly, population studies show an increasing rise in heart disease prevalence. Furthermore, heart disease is no longer a problem restricted to older people as over 35% of heart attack patients are below 50 and 10% are under 30. Medications for heart disease are effective but since the condition is chronic, it means that patients are forced to take these medications for the rest of their lives. Ayurveda is a holistic discipline that can improve heart health and even offer a cure for heart disease. There are several studies that prove the efficacy of Ayurvedic therapies in the treatment of cardiac conditions including heart disease.
How Ayurveda Can Help Cure Heart Disease
An unhealthy lifestyle with low levels of physical activity and a high intake of unhealthy processed foods is the main cause of heart disease in India. This ‘western lifestyle’ causes the build-up of cholesterol plaque in the arteries which restricts blood flow and causes or exacerbates heart disease. Ayurvedic treatments for heart health include specialized diet plans, herbal preparations, therapeutic practices, yoga, and pranayama. These treatments help to control and even eliminate the causative factors of heart disease, which ameliorates and even reverses the symptoms of this condition. Here’s why Ayurveda may hold the solution to heart disease:
Lowers High Blood Pressure
In 1993, Dr.P Mamgain published ‘A Critical Study Of The Concept Of Ischaemic Heart Disease In Ayurveda’ suggesting that ancient Ayurvedic writings could hold the answer to this modern disease. This was proved to be true when Dr. Rohit M Sane published ‘A Novel Ayurvedic Approach For Management Of Chronic Heart Failures’ that detailed the heart health benefits of Ayurvedic treatments. The research shows that this Ayurvedic treatment can help to increase oxygen uptake and reduce systolic blood pressure.
Poor circulation results in reduced blood supply to the heart muscles which results in ischemic heart disease. Ischemic heart disease is the most common type of heart disease and is currently the leading cause of death in India.
Ayurvedic practises such as Hrid Basti (where a warm herbal decoction is used topically) improve local blood supply by vasodilatation as well as reduce spasms of the intercostal muscles. Additionally, Ayurvedic herbal preparations that include Terminali aarjuna increase the force of heart muscle contractions which improves blood circulation.
Increases Aerobic Function
Ayurveda, especially specific yoga asanas and breathing techniques, is effective in improving the efficiency of the cardiorespiratory system. Improving the cardiorespiratory system will help to cure heart disease as a stronger system increases your heart’s ability to pump blood which improves oxygen supply and reduces cardiac risks.
Dr.Rohit Sane and Dr.Milind Hanchate co-authored ‘SampurnaHridayShuddhikaran: An Interventional Health Model to Improve Quality of Life in Chronic Heart Failure’ – a research study that proved that this Ayurvedic treatment model improves aerobic function. VO2 max is the maximum rate of oxygen consumption and it is used to determine cardiorespiratory fitness levels. Thisstudy showed that the treatment resulted in a significant increase in VO2 max levels proving that the treatment model can contribute towards curing heart disease and related health conditions.
Lowers High Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol levels pose numerous health problems, but most importantly, it can lead to atherosclerosis which is the formation of thickened cholesterol plaque on the inside of the arteries. An unhealthy lifestyle and diet causes a rise in LDL (bad) cholesterol while simultaneously lowering HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Ayurvedic treatments for heart problems often include therapeutic massages with sesame oil as this oil can significantly lower high LDL cholesterol levels and even reverse atherosclerosis and cure heart disease.
Improves the Elasticity of the Arteries
Arteries are elastic which allows them to stretch and distend as the heart pumps blood through the system. This elasticity is very important as it ensures that blood pressure remains relatively constant. Ayurvedic therapies help to maintain the elasticity of the arteries and prevent them from hardening. This reduces the risk of heart failure and can also help cure heart disease.
Decreases Stress Levels
Stress triggers the release of surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline causes an increase in heart rate and elevates blood pressure while cortisol increases blood sugar levels, which is why prolonged stress has a profound impact on heart health and is one of the main causes of heart disease in India. In his recently published study, “Evaluation of the efficacy of the Ischemia Reversal Program (IRP) as add on therapy to conventional treatment in patients with Stable Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD)”, Dr. Saneshowed that Ayurvedic therapies such as Swedana (fomentation). This therapy is particularly effective in curing heart conditions as it promotes physical as well as mental cleansing and helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
The Benefits of Ayurvedic Treatments For Heart Disease
Although Ayurveda is an ancient form of medicine, it has several benefits over conventional allopathic medication. Here are some of the benefits of Ayurvedic treatments for heart health.
No Side Effects
Allopathic drugs for heart disease can cause a variety of side effects – antiplatelet drugs are linked to diarrhoea and dizziness, anticoagulants can cause gangrene, ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) could cause increased or irregular heart rate, anti-arrhythmics may cause blurred vision, and hypertension medications can cause erectile dysfunction in men. The risk of serious side effects increases with long term usage so people with chronic heart conditions are more vulnerable. In sharp contrast, studies show that Ayurvedic therapies are safe and effective and their benefits increase with consistent use.
India’s healthcare system is grossly overburdened and even essential drugs are often unavailable. Furthermore, medications in the private market are very expensive and can drastically increase a patient’s out-of-pocket expenditure. However, Ayurvedic herbs are easily available and can even be grown in planters for instant access.
Ayurvedic therapies confer long-lasting benefits on patients that last for years. Dr.Sane’s “A Retrospective cohort to study the mortality and survival rate amongst Chronic Heart Failure (CHF) patients after Ayurvedic SampurnaHrudayShudhikaran (SHS) therapy” found that 72% of all patients exhibited remarkable improvement and that the results were found to be positive even after 3 years of treatment. This demonstrates that Ayurvedic treatments for heart disease are not only effective but also sustainable.
The increase in the demand for heart disease medication has resulted in a dramatic rise in the price of these medications. The high prices of these medications is particularly damaging in rural areas where up to 80% of all out-of-pocket expenditure is on medicines. Ayurveda offers an economically viable solution to the problem as it will not only decrease the individual’s dependence on allopathic medicines but it would also help to decrease the burden on the entire healthcare system.
Improves Overall Health
Ayurvedic heart health treatments involve a combination of therapies that work synergistically to improve cardiac function. These holistic treatments improve overall health and will help to decrease the risk of other health problems. Since Ayurveda promotes physical, mental, and emotional health, patients will not only prolong their life-span but also improve their quality of life.
Ayurvedic treatments for heart disease can be used alone or as adjuncts to allopathic treatments, depending on the severity of the condition. Although Ayurveda can help to cure heart disease, you need to consult your doctor before you make any changes to your daily routine. Ayurvedic experts will be able to provide you with a heart health plan that is best suited to your needs.