Heart Watch—Meditation and Heart Disease
By: Elizabeth Joyce
Published February, 2002
One night, Joe Stica kneeled over with chest pains. He was sure it was a heart attack since that is what killed his father before the age of 48. As it turned out, Joe had suffered an angina attack, but the doctors warned him, angina can lead to a heart attack. When Joe followed up, and went to his doctor for a complete physical exam, his doctor told him that his blood pressure and cholesterol levels were sky high.
“You’ve got to take care of yourself,” his doctor warned. “Nowadays there are alternative ways to really help you get some control over blood pressure and weight gain.” Joe needed no convincing. It was either clean up his act, change his lifestyle or end up like his father. Within six months, Joe had lost weight, quit smoking, had his blood pressure back to normal and his cholesterol levels way below the danger level.
Heart disease is America’s biggest health problem. High blood pressure, atherosclerosis, angina, heart attacks and strokes are all too common in the land of plenty. We live in abundance in the United States, which ironically, is partly responsible for heart ailments and weight gain.
Junk food, sugary drinks, couch potato TV watchers, using the car to go places within easy walking distance, and the stress of paying the bills for these luxuries, add up and becomes the recipe for heart disease.
Fortunately we’ve learned that heart disease is preventable, treatable and in many cases, reversible. As Joe discovered, you must take care of yourself. In the New Millennium we’ve learned that we must become our own doctor in the sense that we need to practice preventative medicine, including alternative medicine, to gain control over ourselves.
Give your heart a weight break.
If you’re like most people, you may have tried every weight-loss formula in the books only to experience failure. On again off again is the motto of most. Is your cholesterol high? Have you <I>put it on</I> over the holidays?
Most diets don’t fit our personality and we aren’t able to stick with it. One needs a program of fitness that they will
For example, every morning when you’re in the shower, imagine the palms of your hands becoming warm. Feel the energy of healing come into the palms of your hands. Then place them on the parts of your body where you may feel some extra weight. Place the palms of your hands on your fat cells, and them imagine them flowing off the body like raindrops and going down the drain. See yourself as slim and trim within your mind. This is the first step to changing your eating habits.
Remember that daily exercise is crucial toward losing weight.
This is where Alternative Medicine can help you find your special routine. Some of us were born to run, some to bike ride, and some to be dedicated walkers. Others may prefer the solitude of yoga, swimming or weight lifting. Whatever you choose, please stick with the program for at least one month. Once you see the results of your efforts, you’ll want to continue with your Watchful Routine.
magine your body at its healthiest, as a spiffy sports car, powered by a happy humming engine just right for your size. Now imagine this same engine is required to run a bus or tractor trailer. This engine is your heart, and the strain required to power that bus is the same strain you put on your heart when you weigh too much! Lose weight and you can reduce high blood pressure as well as high cholesterol levels.
No doubt you’re hard about cholesterol. This substance isn’t all bad. Cholesterol is required for our bodies to function smoothly, but that amount is usually produced by our livers. Excess cholesterol, however, which we get when we eat animal products like red meat and eggs, can block the blood flow through our arteries. This condition, called atherosclerosis, will lead to serious and even fatal heart diseases, from heart attacks to strokes.
Your total cholesterol levels should be under 200. Studies show that limiting dietary cholesterol can decrease your level and stop, and even reverse, heart disease. Here’s some suggestions:
- Limit yourself to 300 mg. of fat per day, cutting back on foods like butter, eggs, and red meats. Educate yourself by reading food labels. A glass of regular milk, for instance, has 33 mg. of cholesterol and bologna in a sandwich has about 88 mg. Try to give up lunch meats for awhile if your levels are high.
- Switch to foods like skim milk, chicken and turkey without the skin, rice, beans and fresh vegetables. Vegetarians, by the way, have cholesterol levels as much as 15 points lower than meat eaters. Fresh fish is excellent for protein and has no cholesterol, unless cooked in fat. Limit your intake on fried foods, and never eat fried foods out, as you do not know the oil used for fry them!
- Pay special attention to the oils you consume. Olive oil, canola, safflower and other unsaturated oils are low in cholesterol. Use no more than eight teaspoons of oil a day. Bring oat bran into your diet for fiber. Studies show that oat bran lowers cholesterol levels. Get your oats in oatmeal and other simple foods. Switch your bread to oat bran. Remember, sugar sweetened and oily oat bran products are counterproductive.
- Take Metamucil or other psyllium products – Extracted from psyllium seed, these natural products are normally used for treating constipation, but they also lower cholesterol levels. One study showed that three teaspoons a day for eight weeks lowered a group of men?s cholesterol levels by almost fifteen percent.
- Ginseng, a pungent root popular in eastern cultures for treating a wide range of ailments, has been shown in western studies to help lower cholesterol levels. You can get Ginseng in tea, capsule or liquid form at your health food store. Remember to be muscle tested for dosage.
- Put Down That Pack! Smoking is a big contributor to heart disease, among other ailments it creates. Toxins in tobacco damage your heart tissues. Smoking can cause spasms in your arteries and lead to a heart attack. Smoking increases the levels of carbon monoxide and decreases oxygen in your blood that flows through your heart and everywhere else in your body. Smoking encourages your blood to clot, which leads to strokes or instant death. Smoking also lowers levels of something called HDL, high density lipoproteins that some researchers have termed as good cholesterol, because they help to clean out bad cholesterol from your system. (Losing weight also increases your HDL levels.)
It’s never too late to quit smoking. Hypnosis and meditation can be of great help to do so, as well as the nicotine patch. Use these tools together for success. Research shows that two years after quitting, your chances of getting a heart attack becomes average instead of eighty-five to ninety percent.
- Move It to Lose It! Aerobic exercise opens up blocked blood vessels and builds endurance within the body. Your heart grows in strength and efficiency and is able to function with less strain. This is especially important as you age because the heart’s capacity tends to decrease with the passing of years. If you’re just starting an exercise program, it’s a good idea to see your doctor, get your check-up and get the go ahead from the doctor. Then start slow. Take a fifteen minute walk around the block or neighborhood. A swim or a bike ride will do. If you’re up for some gentle jogging, go for it. Learn how to take your pulse and blood pressure to make sure you’re not overdoing it. Many pharmacies have simple instruments you can purchase, to do this for you.
Now, get out the calculator! To calculate your heart rate, subtract your age from 220 and then take seventy-five percent of that number. If you’re thirty years old, your heart rate will be 142. If you’re fifty, it will be 128, as the rate goes down with age. To take your pulse, exercise a few minutes, then stop. Put your fingers on the side of your neck or your inner wrist, and take your pulse for ten seconds. Then multiply the results by six.
- Here’s a few exercise warnings If you now have heart problems, it’s probably not a good idea to life weights or engage in similar isometric exercises that may strain your heart. If you have angina, you may feel some pain during exercise. This is not necessarily a bad sign. In fact, some angina patients learned to exercise right through some minor pain and came out of it in a few months pain free. Always see your doctor first.
- Keep that pressure down High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the primary predictors of deadly heart disease. The 40 feet of veins and arteries through which your blood flows need to be open, clear of plaque, and strong to keep the blood circulating. High blood pressure is a sign that the veins are starting to do their job, having to squeeze extra hard to push your blood through. This wears them, and your heart, out.
- Keep a watchful eye Cut Salt from your diet. Sodium increases your blood pressure.
- Drink moderately. People who drink a lot of alcohol tend to have high blood pressure. On the other hand, people who drink a small amount of alcohol per day tend to lower blood pressure more than non-drinkers. One glass of an alcohol drink a day should be fine.
- Watch your minerals. Deficiencies in calcium and magnesium appear to be linked to high blood pressure. Be sure you get a tablet with both calcium and magnesium together, because the magnesium helps your body absorb the calcium. One of the best brands is Rainbow Calcium Supplement. Potassium is another heart healthy mineral that lowers blood pressure and helps to prevent stroke. Drink Hawthorne tea, as this herb, taken daily, can reduce blood pressure.
- Now relax Stress has long been linked to causing high blood pressure. It also plays a part in other forms of heart disease from angina to heart attacks. Stress has been found to play a part in high cholesterol levels . Hostility seems to be the biggest predictor of heart disease, according to some research. Overall, research seems to show that intense, disturbing feelings have the effect of raising blood pressure and cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease. Fortunately, research also shows that certain techniques can counter these stress indicators, among them is:
- Meditation – At Harvard, some cardiologists investigated the use of transcendental meditation (TM), a popular form of meditation, in lowering blood pressure. The research concluded that these meditators could actually lower their own blood pressures using their inner will power with meditation as the tool. Research found that the blood pressure of people using meditation over a few weeks, will go down to normal. If they stopped meditation, the blood pressure would rise again.
- Try this meditation exercise – In a quiet room, sit in a chair with your back supported well and both feet flat on the floor, as your legs must remain uncrossed. You can also lie down on a bed or floor, with a comfortable pillow. You may play some soothing music in the background, such as Ascension Harmonics by Richard Shulman, or The Fairy Ring by Mark Rowland. Close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing. Take some deep, long breaths and feel your body begin to relax. Begin to recite a mantra, such as My body flows free and easy or I am healthy, whole and complete. Choose any mantra you would like.
Recite it over and over within your mind, quietly, taking a breath every time after saying it. As some point, you may find that you’re reciting the word or sentence silently to yourself rather than aloud. That’s fine and is known as bringing it within. Continue this practice for at least 20 minutes a day. Try to meditate daily and at the same time everyday.