Cardiovascular Conditions

The cardiovascular system is made up of the heart, arteries, veins and capillaries. It is responsible for moving vital blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. The cardiovascular system is very important in the survival and maintaining homeostasis. The cardiovascular system functions to provide consistent movement of blood throughout the body so that it can provide nourishment to every cell and tissue in the body. Without constant circulation of blood, the tissues of the body will be deprived of nutrients and will sustain irreversible damage that may lead to death. For this reason, it is so important to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, yet we still see an extraordinarily high incidence of cardiovascular pathology in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States. With such a high prevalence in this country, it is important to recognize the cardiovascular disease risk factors. About half of Americans, 47%, have at least one of the three following risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking. Other risk factors include: diabetes, obesity, unhealthy diet, inactive lifestyle, and excessive alcohol consumption.

Cardiovascular Treatment

The treatment of cardiovascular problems varies depending on the condition, however, most conventional treatments include some combination of medication, lifestyle changes, and in some cases surgery. In many cases, holistic therapies can be included to help patients manage cardiovascular symptoms while addressing some of the underlying causes of heart disease such as stress, blood pressure, cholesterol, and diet.

Treatment of Cardiovascular Diseases with Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be a safe and effective option for cardiovascular disease treatment. Acupuncture can help to address the symptoms of heart disease, while also aiding in prevention for cardiovascular events. With the growing prevalence of heart disease, it is essential to implement preventative measures into daily life. Acupuncture helps support a healthy lifestyle that may lower the risks for cardiovascular problems. The treatment of cardiovascular diseases with Chinese medicine can decrease some of the risk factors involved in heart disease. Smoking is a large risk factor for heart disease and acupuncture has proven effective in helping people to quit smoking. Acupuncture also helps to regulate blood pressure and cholesterol, which are both essential in maintaining cardiovascular health. Acupuncture also helps to release endorphins, the body’s feel-good hormone, which is effective in reducing stress. Furthermore, acupuncture and Chinese medicine are successful in helping to maintain a healthy weight, which will reduce the risk of heart disease.

Herbs for Cardiovascular Health

In addition to lifestyle modifications, Chinese medicine practitioners may also make nutritional recommendations and prescribe Chinese herbs for cardiovascular health. Diet is a large part of cardiovascular health. In Chinese medicine, nutritional guidance is not one size fits all. Chinese medicine practitioners make specific recommendations based on the patient’s overall presentation, signs, and symptoms. In general, foods that support blood are seen as foods that support cardiovascular health. In Chinese medicine, we have a saying, “like treats like.” This means that the most nutritious foods often look like the organ or tissue that they are most effective at supporting. In the case of heart health, that means foods that are naturally red. Foods like beets, tomatoes, cherries, and certain meats all support the blood and the heart. Some herbs for cardiovascular health include red dates, goji berries, and cinnamon. Chinese herbal medicine is highly individualized and is prescribed on a case by case basis. As always, check with your acupuncturist and herbalist to see which herbal formula is right for you.

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