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Heal Your Heart

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Heal Your Heart

By Carrie Demers, MD, Yoga+

My father and uncle both had heart attacks in their 40s. I just turned 40. Am I destined to have the same fate?

It is true that heart disease tends to run in the family, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to happen to you. In my experience, it’s not so much a question of what is genetic as it is one of what is learned. When we are young, we unconsciously model our parents—their gestures; their patterns of walking, speaking, breathing; how they communicate; and how they manage their stress. So if you’re doing the same thing your father did, then it is likely you’re going to end up with the same disease he had. But if you make significant lifestyle changes to alter your risk factors—if you eat, exercise, breathe, think, and communicate differently—you can improve your chances of overcoming your family’s patterns of illness. It’s up to you.

What causes heart disease?

Heart disease is a broad label that includes coronary artery disease (CAD), high blood pressure, heart failure, and arrhythmia. We’ll focus on CAD, the most common of these conditions, which is often used interchangeably with the term “heart disease.”

CAD refers to atherosclerosis, or the blocking of the arteries that feed your heart muscle. Arteries bring nourishing oxygen-rich blood to all of your organs. The coronary arteries bring blood flow to the heart muscle itself. If they get blocked, then the heart muscle doesn’t get enough oxygen and you experience heart pain, or angina. Severe blockages cause heart attacks and death. Seventeen million people have coronary artery disease in the United States. With half a million deaths a year, it is the leading killer of both men and women in the country.

In the last 20 years, there has been a lot of attention on lowering cholesterol as a primary way of reducing CAD. And while high cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, it is not the only cause. Research from the last decade is showing that inflammation is often the underlying factor in the creation of arterial plaque leading to blockages.

According to ayurveda, inflammation is a sign of excessive pitta, or fiery energy. If pitta is your dominant constitution, you are likely to be driven, efficient, and successful. But if this energy is out of balance, you may have problems with impatience, anger, and inflammation (such as heartburn or ulcers). Ayurveda also says that diseases are caused by the accumulation of ama, or toxins. Blockages in the arteries are a sign of ama. That is why this ancient science places so much emphasis on detoxing. (Visit yogaplus.org/detox to learn more.)

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Read more: Angina, General Health, Health, Heart & Vascular Disease, ,

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Megan, selected from Yoga+ Magazine

Yoga International is an award-winning, independent magazine that contemplates the deeper dimensions of spiritual life--exploring the power of yoga practice and philosophy to not only transform our bodies and minds, but inspire meaningful engagement in our society, environment, and the global community.

15 comments

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9:04AM PST on Jan 13, 2010

Thanks!

3:08AM PST on Dec 16, 2009

Not only does it take courage to go through the grief process, but I believe it takes GREAT courage to take one’s own grief experiences and use it to help others. What a great way to make meaning of our loss and to honor our loved ones’.
folic acid

2:03PM PST on Dec 5, 2009

There is a new area of physiological interest called "Epigenetics". Basically defined as we have the innate ability to "reprogram" our DNA to overcome hereditary degenerative disease tendencies. So, no, having a family history of certain maladies doesn't automatically dictate descendants will be afflicted. Our minds can heal as well as they can harm.

7:29PM PST on Nov 23, 2009

Thank you very much for this informative article!

7:19PM PST on Nov 23, 2009

Good article, thanks for sharing. Stress management is just one of many ways of taking good care of one's cardiovascular system.

2:05PM PST on Nov 23, 2009

cool

8:25AM PST on Nov 23, 2009

A GOOD ARTICLE, HEART DISEASE GALLOPS IN MY FAMILY!! THANK YOU

7:09AM PST on Nov 23, 2009

One of the reasons that health conditions "run in the family" is that the genetic damage is passed on ... called a miasm in homeopathy.
My father and his two brothers all died of heart attacks in their early middle age. My father's first heart attack was when he was 39, and he died of his fourth at age 50.
My first heart attack came when I was 38, and with the help of a world class homeopath I overcame the genetic damage. Even the emotional pattern that led to heart attack was similar to my father's first heart attack - grief. Yes, I nearly died of grief, but my homeopath gave me a remedy specifically for grief.
It's also the remedy that helps to overcome the gene damage from syphilis, a very common miasm, since many of our ancestors had the disease.
If you're worried about heart problems, find a world class homeopath. You can write to me at sacredground@mac.com and I will give you some recommendations for California area.

6:38AM PST on Nov 23, 2009

Good article. And to Jessica J. that was an interesting tidbit of information as well. Thanks to both the author and Jessica!

6:22AM PST on Nov 23, 2009

The heart is an incredible feat of nature. It literally pumps life in us constantly and non-stop for our entire lives, literally it can pump non-stop for a century. Because it is so vital we should always take steps into taking care of it, especially when it comes to the food we eat.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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