Heart Health

As a Complementary Practitioner I encourage patients to make positive changes to their diet and lifestyle to improve general health, sense of wellbeing and quality of life. As risks to health increase with age and none more so than to the heart I decided to visit the British Heart Foundation BHF website and came across this startling statement.  “Coronary heart disease kills more than twice as many women as breast cancer in the UK and it was the single biggest killer of women worldwide in 2019”. (2023 facts and figures can be found “British Heart Foundation Heart & Circulatory Disease Statistics, 2023 Compendium”). My first thought was what is coronary heart disease (ischaemic heart disease or coronary artery disease)? Followed by how can females lower their risk ? According to the NHS website Coronary Heart Disease CHD happens when your heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries. Over time, the walls of your arteries can become furred up with fatty deposits (atheroma). This process is known as atherosclerosis and is linked with high cholesterolhigh blood pressure (hypertension) or diabetes. All of which may be helped with modifications to diet and lifestyle. Further risk factors that affect women include menopause, pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes. Female hormones might give some protection from developing CHD in pre-menopause years. But after menopause, risk rises and continues to rise as you get older. CHD is the most common underlying cause of heart attack. If a piece of atheroma breaks off, a blood clot forms around this to try and repair the damage to the artery wall. This clot can block your coronary artery, causing your heart muscle to be starved of blood and oxygen. Although symptoms can vary from person to person, women and men generally experience the same heart attack symptoms. Chest pain or discomfort in the chest that comes on suddenly and doesn’t go away. It may feel like pressure, tightness or squeezing. The pain or discomfort may spread to one or both arms, or may spread to neck, jaw, back or stomach. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing with or without chest discomfort. Feeling dizzy, light-headed or faint. Nausea, indigestion, vomiting. Sweating or a cold sweat. Anxiety that can feel like a panic attack. Coughing or wheezing. One or a combination of these symptoms may be experienced if concerned take action and contact appropriate services. Research shows women tend to not recognise the symptoms as a sign of a heart attack as quickly. This is mainly because heart attacks are wrongly believed to be a man’s problem. Also a study led by Dr Chris Gale and team from Leeds University 2018 found “ that women having heart attacks were less likely to receive the correct initial diagnosis than men. The researchers warned that getting a timely diagnosis is the first step to getting treatments”  So what self-care action can lower risks?  Reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol, control type 2 diabetes, stop smoking, lose weight, and increase physical activity. As a holistic practitioner I do not diagnose health conditions. However, I am qualified to advise, support and encourage patients to make changes to lower risk with a range of approaches and methods. No two patients are the same even when diagnosed with the same condition therefore individual treatment plans are often more effective than a generic course of action. Broadly speaking experience of using various skills and techniques within the scope of Nutritional Therapy, Counselling and Clinical Reflexology has shown effective in creating positive changes. Benefitting general health and wellbeing and helping keep your heart healthy. Change your diet (reduce fats, salt and sugar), increase exercise ( yoga, swimming, build up stamina slowly before embarking on a marathon !), manage your stress ( mindfulness, meditation, quality sleep) and don’t forget to laugh and enjoy looking after yourself ! Clinical Reflexology has shown to reduce the effects of stress/anxiety, reduce pain and swelling and increase flexibility and mobility.  If diagnosed with a heart condition please inform your GP/Consultant before making any changes to your normal activities including exercise. If you think I might help you FEEL BETTER get in touch.