The cardiovascular system consists of the heart and blood vessels and is
responsible for carrying nutrients and oxygen to the tissues and
removing carbon dioxide and other waste from them. Diseases affecting
the cardiovascular system include arteriosclerosis, coronary artery
disease, heart valve disease, arrhythmia, heart failure, hypertension,
orthostatic hypotension, shock, endocarditis, diseases of the aorta and
its branches, disorders of the peripheral vascular system, and
congenital heart disease. February is the American Heart Association’s
Heart Health Awareness Month, emphasizing the importance of
cardiovascular health and the dangers of cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading health threat with heart disease
and stroke topping the list of the first and second leading causes of
death worldwide. One out of every two men and one out of every three
women will develop heart disease sometime in their life. Despite
dramatic medical advances over the past fifty years, heart disease
remains a leading cause of death globally and the number one cause of
death in the United States. Cardiovascular disease is not just a man’s
disease, in women, the condition is responsible for about 29% of deaths,
reports the CDC. Although more men die of heart disease than women,
females tend to be under diagnosed, often to the point that it’s too
late to help them once the condition is discovered.
By integrating acupuncture and Oriental medicine into your heart healthy
lifestyle, you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by as much
as 80%. Steps to prevention include managing high blood pressure and
cholesterol, quitting smoking, eating healthy, maintaining a healthy
weight, physical activity, reducing stress and improved sleep – all of
which can be helped with acupuncture and Oriental medicine.
5 Steps to a Healthy Heart with Acupuncture
1. Manage High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure makes the heart work harder, increasing its oxygen
demands and contributing to angina. This excessive pressure can lead to
an enlarged heart (cardiomegaly), as well as damage to blood vessels in
the kidneys and brain. It increases the risk of heart attacks, stroke
and kidney disease.
Acupuncture has been found to be particularly helpful in lowering blood
pressure. By applying acupuncture needles at specific sites along the
wrist, inside the forearm or in the leg, researchers at the Susan
Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California,
Irvine, were able to stimulate the release of opioids, which decreases
the heart’s activity and thus its need for oxygen. This, in turn, lowers
2. Quit Smoking
Most people associate cigarette smoking with breathing problems and lung
cancer. But did you know that smoking is also a major cause of coronary
artery disease? In fact, about 20% of all deaths from heart disease are
directly related to cigarette smoking.
Acupuncture has shown to be an effective treatment for smoking.
Acupuncture treatments for smoking cessation focus on jitters, cravings,
irritability, and restlessness – symptoms that people commonly complain
about when they quit. It also aids in relaxation and detoxification.
3. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity is associated with diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary
artery disease, all of which increase the risk of developing heart
disease, but studies have shown that excess body weight itself (and not
just the associated medical conditions) can also lead to heart failure.
Even if you are entirely healthy otherwise, being overweight still
places you at a greater risk of developing heart failure.
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine are an excellent adjunctive tool when
it comes to losing weight. They can help to energize the body, maximize
the absorption of nutrients, regulate elimination, control overeating,
suppress the appetite, and reduce anxiety.
4. Reduce Stress
Stress is a normal part of life, but if left unmanaged, stress can lead
to emotional, psychological, and even physical problems, including heart
disease, high blood pressure, chest pains, or irregular heart beats.
Medical researchers aren’t exactly sure how stress increases the risk of
heart disease. Stress itself might be a risk factor, or it could be that
high levels of stress make other risk factors worse. For example, if you
are under stress, your blood pressure goes up, you may overeat, you may
exercise less, and you may be more likely to smoke.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the substantial benefits of
acupuncture in the treatment of stress, anxiety and mental health. In
addition to acupuncture, Oriental medicine offers a whole gamut of tools
and techniques that can be integrated into your life to keep stress in
check. These tools include Tui Na, Qi Gong exercises, herbal medicine,
dietary therapy, meditations and acupressure that you can administer at
5. Improve Sleep
Poor sleep has been linked with high blood pressure, atherosclerosis,
heart failure, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. Researchers
have shown that getting at least eight hours of sleep is needed for good
heart health and getting less than eight hours of sleep can put you at a
greater risk for developing heart disease.
Acupuncture has shown great success treating a wide array of sleep
problems without any of the side effects of prescription or
over-the-counter sleep aids. The acupuncture treatments for problems
sleeping focus on the root disharmony within the body that is causing
the insomnia. Therefore, those who use acupuncture for insomnia achieve
not only better sleep, but also an overall improvement of physical and
Come in for a consultation during Heart Health Awareness Month to see
how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can assist you with your heart
health and help you to live a long, healthy life.
Acupuncture for Cholesterol Management
It’s important to have your blood cholesterol levels checked since you
can have high cholesterol and not realize it. Most of the 65 million
Americans with high cholesterol have no symptoms. All adults age 20 and
older should have their cholesterol levels checked at least once every
five years. If you have elevated cholesterol, you’ll need to have it
tested more often.
Research has clearly shown that lowering cholesterol can reduce the risk
of developing heart disease. Whether you have heart disease already or
want to prevent it, you can reduce your risk for having a heart attack
by lowering your cholesterol level.
According to the American Heart Association, exercise and a healthy
balanced diet low in cholesterol and saturated fats is important to
lowering risk and improving your cardiovascular health. Speak to your
health care providers to make sure your cholesterol is being monitored
and find out how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you stay
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be used to treat many of the
health conditions known to drastically increase the risk of heart
disease and high cholesterol including smoking, high blood pressure,
excess weight, and diabetes.
Excess weight tends to increase your low density lipoprotein (LDL)
levels, raise triglycerides, a fatty substance in the blood and in food,
and lowers your high density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. Regular physical
activity can help you lose weight and raise HDL, lower triglycerides,
and lower LDL.
Call today to see how Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you with your cholesterol management goals!
Anja Middelveld, L.Ac., LMT, NTP
Healing Path Holistic Medicine Clinic
503 513 4665
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