When I dissected a human body in medical school, I was amazed to find that there actually ARE heart strings. Seeing that reminded me of the feeling sensed during a first kiss or times of grief due to loss of a loved one. Those strings, called chordae tendineae, are pulled by little muscles to open the valves allowing blood to be received and distributed. The heart is made up of 4 chambers. Two on top “the atrium” receive blood from the body emptying into the 2 lower ventricles. The right ventricle receives deoxygenated blood and sends it to the lungs to pick up more oxygen while the left ventricle pushes that oxygen rich blood back to the body.
Video on how the heart works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHMmtqKgs50
Blood pressure, what does the numbers mean?
Normal blood pressure is said to be ~ 120/80.
Systolic (top number) is the pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts.
Diastolic (bottom number) is the pressure within the arteries when the heart is relaxed.
Here is a chart to put things into perspective:
High blood pressure
If left untreated, small capillaries can be damaged in the eyes and kidneys.
What to do:
- Walk at least 30 minutes per day.
- Moderate alcohol consumption, as this can cause drops in blood sugar that result in the body releasing adrenaline to increase sugar levels. Adrenaline causes the heart to race and makes us feel anxious.
- Be mindful of breathing. Many people are shallow breathers. Training ourselves to do belly breathing helps to dilate the vascular system allowing for a drop in blood pressure.
- Avoid processed foods that are high in sodium. Consider the well researched dash diet that involves reducing sodium consumption to 1,500-2,300 mg/day and focusing on eating plenty of calcium, potassium, and magnesium rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. The following chart gives an idea of what to achieve each day.
Here is a good link for recipe ideas: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/recipes/dash-diet-recipes/rcs-20077146
Low blood pressure:
One may feel dizzy, fatigued, depressed, and nauseous. They can also have difficulty concentrating, blurred vision, and shallow breath. Some causes are: dehydration, prolonged bed rest, blood loss, infection, allergic reactions, pregnancy, heart or thyroid disorders, even B-12/folate deficiency.
What to do:
-Drink plenty of water. 1/3-1/2 the body weight in ounces.
(ex 100lb person, drinks 50 oz water or about 8 cups/day)
-Limit alcohol, as this depletes folate and B-12 which results in not enough blood cells being formed. Eat foliage/dark leafy greens everyday for the B-vitamin, folate. Along with plenty of B-12 found in animal foods, such as meat, fish/seafood, eggs, and cheese. It is especially important for vegetarians and vegans to get enough from food sources such as seaweed, fermented soy, spirulina (blue-green algae), brewers or nutritional yeast, and mushrooms. There is also evidence that some friendly bacteria species produce vitamin B12 in the gut.
-Stay active, by walking at least 30 minutes per day.
-If you are experiencing irregular heart beat, excessive menstrual bleeding, blood in stool or have black tarry bowels movements, see a health care provider as soon as possible.
What natural things can improve heart health?
Dark berries provide antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress, this helps to keep the structure of our vessels healthy.
Garlic has cholesterol lowering properties which prevent clogging of arteries.
CoQ10 is an antioxidant which helps to oxygenate tissues and diminish damage to vessels.
Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil, flax seed, chia seed, walnuts, and avocados helps to reduce inflammation in the body and normalize cholesterol.
Magnesium relaxes muscles. Arteries are thicker than veins due to the muscle tissue which lines it to keep blood moving. Magnesium promotes relaxation of those muscles, decreasing tension and thus pressure within the arteries. Again, eat your greens! 🙂
Hawthorne flowers, leaves, and berries are used to increase contractile force of the heart, thus toning it. This plant has been found safe in research studies when co-administered with other heart medication.
Motherswort is a mild sedative and antispasmodic which helps one to relax.
There are many other botanical’s that have been proven helpful for heart conditions. See medically trained Naturopathic doctor for more information about dosing.
And finally the emotional/spiritual aspect of the heart…..
The Heart Chakra– In Sanskrit, “Anahata” is the fourth energy point in the body, located in the central spine between the breasts. It is associated with love and compassion for self and others, along with charity to others. When we meditate from this place, “follow our heart”, it helps us to makes decisions based on our higher self rather than unfulfilled emotions or desires.
Namaste (I bow to the light within you),