People with heart failure suffer from heart disease, which can be caused by abnormal heart valves, heart attacks or heart defects. Heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood and oxygen throughout the body. It can cause shortness of breath, heart palpitations, fatigue and fluid retention.
In addition to medical treatments that can improve heart function, natural therapies such as herbal medicine and exercise can strengthen heart muscle tissue. In this article, we discuss natural therapies that can be used in the treatment plan for patients suffering from heart failure.
Natural Therapies for Heart Failure
Many heart failure patients have a poor quality of life and experience a host of symptoms, ranging from fatigue, fainting spells, mental confusion, coughing up blood, and fluid in the abdomen, among others.
There are a wide range of treatments available for heart failure, including heart surgery, heart transplants and medications that can help reduce heart muscle damage. However, many heart failure patients also turn to natural therapies due to the side effects from conventional treatments or because they don't wish to use medications at all. The list of natural remedies below may be useful in the treatment of heart failure:
Herbs for Heart Failure
Therapeutic herbs have been used since ancient times to treat a variety of heart conditions. A recent systematic review has revealed that some herbs can be helpful in treating people suffering from heart disease. Researchers concluded that there is promising evidence supporting the use of hawthorn extract and garlic for treating atherosclerosis, which is an underlying cause of heart disease. The list below outlines a variety of herbs and their beneficial effects:
- Hawthorn is a heart stimulant that helps increase heart rate and blood pressure levels to normal levels. It also contains antioxidants that protect the heart against free radicals. The herb is an excellent source of nutrients for the heart because it contains bioflavonoids, tannins, vitamins A, B complex and C, as well as essential minerals like iron, calcium and potassium.
- Garlic reduces heart disease risk factors, including high blood pressure and cholesterol. It also reduces heart rate and heart contractility (the strength by which the heart pumps blood) in patients with heart failure due to coronary artery disease (CAD), which is the most common cause of heart failure.
- Ginkgo biloba has been found to be helpful for heart failure by increasing oxygen uptake, energy production and physical performance as well as improving regional left ventricular function compared to placebo. It also prevents kidney damage without any side effects proven from clinical trials performed on heart failure patients with chronic renal insufficiency.
- Ginseng can help heart disease because it helps with circulation, which is important in heart health. Ginseng has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to treat heart problems and cardiovascular diseases. This adaptogen can help lower blood pressure and reduce cortisol levels in the body due to stress. Furthermore, peer-reviewed studies show that ginseng may improve heart function by improving blood flow through arteries and veins, increasing oxygenation of the heart muscle and preventing hardening of the arteries.
- Ginger contains heart healthy nutrients, such as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. It can help with heart failure by preventing heart attacks or heart muscle damage, lowering cholesterol levels, and regulating blood pressure.
- Milk thistle supplements have been used in heart failure patients with great success. Milk thistle contains a group of flavonoid antioxidants called silymarin that reduce oxidative stress in heart failure.
- Cayenne pepper is known to increase circulation, which means that heart failure patients can benefit from it greatly. Furthermore, cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, which has been shown to reduce heart attacks by causing the heart's arteries to relax and dilate. It also prevents blood clots from forming or growing larger.
Exercises for Heart Failure
Lack of physical activity worsens heart failure symptoms. Unfortunately, many people with the condition think engaging in physical activities will make their heart condition worse. Research suggests otherwise. A review found that exercise training methods such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), low-intensity aerobic exercise or resistance training were all effective in improving heart muscle function. However, studies have shown that HIIT was the most effective in increasing patients' activity levels and heart performance.
Nutrition for Heart Failure
Many heart diseases can be prevented with better nutrition. The foods that contribute to heart disease are the ones you need to avoid like processed foods and sugar. Replace these heart-harming foods with heart protective ones, including whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein such as fish, and healthy omega-3 fatty acids from nuts and seeds.
Source: VisualParadigm Online
Relaxation Techniques for Heart Failure
Many heart failure patients can benefit from using relaxation techniques like breathing exercises and guided imagery to calm the body and mind. Breathing exercises that involve deep diaphragmatic breathing can help heart failure patients by relieving anxiety, increasing oxygen levels in the blood and decreasing stress levels, leading to better heart function. Guided imagery is a form of meditation where heart patients imagine themselves in a peaceful place or scenario. Imagery leads to improved mental health and reduces the risk of depression and other psychological disorders.
Heart failure can be extremely debilitating, but there are many natural remedies and ways to reduce the risk of heart disease that can improve the quality of life for heart failure sufferers. Consult a doctor before beginning any of these treatments since your individual condition will determine what dosage of herbal medicine, amount of exercise and type of diet you need.