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Cardiovascular Conditions

Cardiovascular disease includes a number of conditions affecting the structures or function of the heart.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in Canada. The majority of cardiovascular disease is directly related to eating foods devoided of nutrients and bad lifestyle practices.

It is important to learn about your heart to help prevent heart disease. Chest discomfort, shortness of breath, edema and easy fatigued are common complaints here. Despite the harm typically done to their cardiovascular system throughout the years there is still much hope for recovery when the patients are finally motivated to change their lifestyle.

Naturopathic medicine can help these patients with wonderful plants used traditionally for heart problems and with nutraceuticals. Lifestyle changes are, again, a must


High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is the most common cardiovascular disease.

Blood pressure refers to the force of blood pushing against artery walls as it courses through the body. Like air in a tire or water in a hose, blood fills arteries to a certain capacity. Just as too much air pressure can damage a tire or too much water pushing through a garden hose can damage the hose, high blood pressure can threaten healthy arteries and lead to life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and stroke.
Hypertension is the leading cause of stroke and a major cause of heart attack. In 2013, 17.7% (5.3 million) of Canadians aged 12 and older reported being diagnosed with high blood pressure. This was not a significant change from 2012, though it is an increase from 16.9% in 2009.
A blood pressure reading appears as two numbers. The first and higher of the two is a measure of systolic pressure, or the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats and fills them with blood. The second number measures diastolic pressure, or the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats.
Normal blood pressure rises steadily from about 90/60 at birth to about 120/80 in a healthy adult. If someone were to take your blood pressure immediately after you’d delivered a speech or jogged 5 miles, the reading would undoubtedly seem high. This is not necessarily cause for alarm: It’s natural for blood pressure to rise and fall with changes in activity or emotional state.
It’s also normal for blood pressure to vary from person to person, even from one area of the body to another. But when blood pressure remains consistently high, you are in need for treatment. Consistently high blood pressure forces the heart to work far beyond its capacity. Along with injuring blood vessels, hypertension can damage the brain, eyes, and kidneys.


Cholesterol helps your body build new cells, insulate nerves, and produce hormones. Normally, the liver makes all the cholesterol the body needs. But cholesterol also enters your body from food, such as animal-based foods like milk, eggs, and meat. The ratio is 80:20, cholesterol produced by your body to cholesterol from foods. Too much cholesterol in your body is a risk factor for heart disease.
A surplus can cause plaque to build up in your arteries and make it hard for blood to get to your heart. That can cause chest pain, called angina. If the blood supply is completely blocked, you will have a heart attack.
There are different types of cholesterol. You want to lower the “bad” kind, LDL, and triglycerides, which your body stores in fat cells. On the other hand, you want to raise your “good” HDL cholesterol. It helps get rid of the bad kinds.
High cholesterol is associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease. That can include coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. High cholesterol has also been linked to diabetes and high blood pressure.
Managing high cholesterol isn’t a simple do-it-yourself project. You need to work with your health care provider. And while changing your diet may help a lot, many people still need more aggressive treatments to reduce their risk of heart disease.
Also, remember that these foods aren’t cure-alls. A handful of walnuts or a bowl of oatmeal won’t make you invincible. It won’t give you a free pass to eat all the high-fat foods you want. To benefit, you still must eat unprocessed foods, watch your weight, and get more exercise.
High cholesterol itself does not cause any symptoms, so many people are unaware that their cholesterol levels are too high. Therefore, it is important to find out what your cholesterol numbers are.


Diabetes is a number of diseases that involve problems with the hormone insulin. Normally, the pancreas (an organ behind the stomach) releases insulin to help your body store and use the sugar and fat from the food you eat. Diabetes occurs when one of the following occurs:
✓ When the pancreas does not produce any insulin
✓ When the pancreas produces very little insulin
✓ When the body does not respond appropriately to insulin, a condition called “insulin resistance”

Diabetes is a lifelong disease. Approximately 3.4 million Canadians, or 9.3% of total adult population, have the disease. An additional 5.7 million people or 22.1% 41 have pre-diabetes. As yet, there is no cure. People with diabetes need to manage their disease to stay healthy. Diet and exercise are still the pillars of managing diabetes.


Heart disease, such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, congestive heart failure, and congenital heart disease, is the leading cause of death for men and women in Canada. Prevention includes quitting smoking, lowering cholesterol, controlling high blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising.
A Naturopathic Doctor will lay out a Prevention Plan for reducing the chances of getting a heart attack. This plan will include changes to your diet, nutraceuticals and plants.


If you have a feeling of pressure or a squeezing in your chest, it may be angina. It can feel like a heart attack, but often it’s just a warning sign from your heart.
There’s a lot you can do to stop it from happening. Usually, medicine along with lifestyle changes can control angina. If it’s more severe, you may need surgery, too. Or you may need a stent, a tiny tube that props open arteries.
The chest pain you feel with angina happens because there isn’t enough blood flowing to part of your heart. It’s a symptom of heart disease, and it’s caused when something blocks the arteries that bring oxygen-rich blood to your heart.
Angina usually goes away quickly, but it can be a symptom of a life-threatening heart problem. Call your doctor if you have angina. It’s important to find out what’s going on and to talk about what you can do to avoid a heart attack in the future.

POST MI RECOVERY (after heart attack)

Most people survive a first heart attack and go on to live a full and productive life.
Recovery begins in the hospital. Typically, a person is in the hospital for three days to a week after a heart attack. But if there were complications or if you have had certain procedures such as bypass surgery, you will likely be kept longer. You won’t be dismissed until your condition is stable and it is safe for you to go home.
After a heart attack it is important to begin a regular activity program to help reduce the chance of having additional heart problems. Your doctor will let you know when it is the right time to begin an exercise program.
After a heart attack, it’s common to have negative feelings such as:
✓ fear
✓ depression
✓ denial
✓ anxiety
These feelings often last for about two to six months. They can affect your ability to exercise, interfere with your family life and your work, and have a negative impact on your recovery.
Talking with your doctor/naturopath or a mental health specialist can help you deal with negative feelings. Let your family and your doctor/naturopath know about them.
Make these changes to help reduce your risk of heart attack and heart disease:
✓ Stop smoking.
✓ Treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
✓ Manage diabetes and obesity.
✓ Eat a heart-healthy diet.
✓ Become more active.
A Naturopathic doctor can create a Recovery Plan for you to help you recover faster after a heart attack. This Plan will include changes to your lifestyle, plants, acupuncture and some nutraceuticals.


Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a narrowing of arteries in the legs that limits mobility, causes muscle pain, and creates poor circulation. It usually comes on with exercise and stops when you rest. Atherosclerosis is a common cause of PAD. The symptoms may be present in any part of the legs from the thigh to the feet.
It usually happens because your arteries harden and narrow (atherosclerosis). Smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and not being active are the main causes.
If you have diabetes, you’re more likely to get a worse case of peripheral artery disease that improves less with treatment.
Some people feel burning or numbness. Others have severe blockages with no pain at all, usually because the body grows blood vessels that go around the blockages.
Other signs and symptoms of peripheral artery disease include:
✓ Wounds that heal poorly
✓ Legs are cooler than the arms
✓ Shiny skin over the legs
✓ Loss of hair on the legs
✓ Fainter pulse in the feet


Atherosclerosis – hardening and narrowing of the arteries – gets a lot of bad press but with good reason. This progressive process silently and slowly blocks arteries with plaque, putting blood flow at risk.

Plaque is a jumble of cholesterol, cells, and debris that creates a bump on the artery wall. As atherosclerosis progresses, that bump gets bigger. And when it gets big enough, it can create a blockage. That process goes on throughout your entire body. As a result, not only is your heart at risk but you are also at risk for stroke and other kinds of health problems.

Atherosclerosis is the usual cause of heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease, what together are called “cardiovascular disease.”

Cardiovascular disease is the number 1 killer in North America and the industrialized world. In 2012, more than 66,000 Canadians died from heart disease or stroke. That’s one person every 7 minutes. In 2012, almost 14,000 Canadians died as the result of a heart attack. In 2012, more than 13,000 Canadians died as the result of a stroke.

Atherosclerosis usually causes no symptoms until middle or older age. But as narrowings become severe, they choke off blood flow and can cause pain. Blockages can also suddenly rupture, causing blood to clot inside an artery at the site of the rupture.

A naturopath can put together for a patient with a high risk of developing Atherosclerosis a Prevention Plan for Atherosclerosis that would normally include botanicals, nutraceuticals, diet changes and an exercise regimen so the patient can take control of this aspect of her/his life.