Atherosclerosis

  

“The funny thing about the heart is a soft heart is a strong heart, and a hard heart is a weak heart.”
Criss Jami

 

Atherosclerosis is a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries.

Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood.

Over time, it hardens and narrows your arteries. This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood

to your organs and other parts of your body.

 

Atherosclerosis can lead to serious problems, including heart attack, stroke, or even death.

It can seriously impact your mobility, especially walking due to pain caused by claudication.

 Intermittent Claudication is caused by narrowing or blockage in the main artery taking

blood to your leg (femoral artery). This is due to hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).

The blockage means that blood flow in the leg is reduced. Blood circulation is usually

sufficient when resting, but when you start walking the calf muscles cannot obtain

enough blood. This causes cramp and pain which gets better after resting for a few minutes.

If greater demands are made on the muscles, such as walking uphill, the pain comes on more

quickly.

 

The cause of atherosclerosis isn't known. But certain personal ways, traits, conditions, or

habits may raise your risk for the disease.

 

You can control some risk factors, such as lack of physical activity, smoking, alcohol,and an

unhealthy diet. Others you can't control, such as age and a family history of heart disease.

 

Signs and symptoms

 

Do not ignore signs and symptoms. The earlier identified, the earlier the treatment, the better for your health.

Signs and symptoms will depend on which arteries are affected...

 

  • coronary arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart.

  • carotid arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your brain

  • renal arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your kidneys

  • peripheral arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to the legs, arms, and pelvis. If these major arteries are narrowed or blocked, you may have numbness, pain, and, sometimes, dangerous infections (a disease called peripheral artery disease)

 

Some people who have atherosclerosis have no signs or symptoms and may not be diagnosed until after a heart attack or stroke.

If you have diabetes type 2, you are more likely to develop pain and other symptoms on your legs.

 

Coronary Arteries   Heart   Common symptoms

 

  • angina (may feel like pressure or squeezing in your chest, also in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. It may be overlooked as indigestion. The pain worsens with activity and lessens with rest. Emotional stress also can trigger the pain.

  • shortness of breath

  • arrhythmias (problems with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat)

  • sleep problems

  • fatigue

  • lack of energy

Carotid Arteries   Brain    Common symptoms   

When blood flow to the brain is blocked, the result can be a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which temporarily affects brain function, or a stroke the permanent loss of brain function.

 

Common symptoms

  • weakness, sudden

  • paralysis (an inability to move)

  • numbness of the face, arms, or legs, especially on one side of the body

  • confusion

  • trouble speaking or understanding speech

  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes

  • Problems breathing

  • Dizziness, loss of balance /coordination, unexplained falls

  • Trouble walking

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Sudden and severe headache

 

 

 

Peripheral Arteries   (Legs, Arms, Pelvis)

Plaque also can build up in the major arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the legs, arms, and pelvis (a disease called peripheral artery disease).  

 

Symptoms

  • Cold legs or feet

  • Leg pain (cramping) that occurs while walking (intermittent claudication)  

  • Leg pain (cramping) that occurs while lying down (rest pain)

  • Leg numbness or weakness

  • Sores that will not heal on toes, feet or legs

  • leg colour, a change in

  • Loss of hair on the feet and legs

  • Changes in toenail colour and thickness

 

Renal Arteries  (Kidneys)

The renal arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your kidneys. If plaque builds up in these arteries, you may develop chronic kidney disease.  Over time, chronic kidney disease causes a slow loss of kidney function. This is particularly so if you have Diabetes Type 2.

 

Treatments

 

 

The main treatments for atherosclerosis are lifestyle changes and medications to combat the pain. You also may need medical procedures. These treatments, along with ongoing medical care, can help you live a healthier life. Do not ignore signs and symptoms.

 

What you can do

 

 

Activity: remain as active as possible. Avoid being sedentary. If you sit a lot, aim to stand every hour for at least five minutes. Gentle exercise such as walking, swimming, golf, and cycling help improve your overall level of fitness and helps your body to produce healthy cholesterol which in turn helps to protect your arteries against bad cholesterol. If you can walk for 30 minutes, reasonably paced, ir not idling, three times per week, after six months you will notice difference in mobility and the lessening of signs and symptoms.

 

Alcohol: if you drink alcohol you may notice signs and symptoms worsen the more you drink! Alcohol contributes to dehydration which causes the blood to thicken and become acidic with toxins. Limit alcohol, if not cut it out altogether.

 

Diabetes: Diabetes, by driving inflammation and slowing blood flow, dramatically accelerates atherosclerosis.  If you have diabetes it is important that your blood sugar levels are well controlled.

 

Diet. Aim for a heart healthy diet. Use fresh produce, limit sugar and carbs, avoid processed foods.

Enjoy: Do things you enjoy. Get Love, Light, and laughter into your life.

Flow: Get in with the flow of life. Make life flow for you.

 

High blood cholesterol levels (fatty substance in your blood): You should eat a healthy balanced diet and try to reduce any excess weight. It is important to reduce the level of cholesterol in your blood. You may be prescribed medication to help lower your cholesterol

 

High blood pressure: It is very important that you have your blood pressure checked at least every six months. If on prescriptions medications for high blood pressure, take it according to the instructions given.

Sauna and Steam: symptoms can be alleviated by regular sessions in sauna and steam rooms

 

Smoking: If you smoke it is best to give up smoking. Tobacco is particularly harmful because:

 

1) it speeds up the hardening of the arteries, which is the cause of the claudication 2) it prevents development of the collateral blood vessels which get blood past the blockage

 

Smoking cessation also helps protect all of your arteries lessening the likelihood of heart attacks or strokes.

 

Sugar: Cut right back on sugar and carbohydrates.

Thinking: Notice your thinking. Are your thoughts positive, upbeat and hopeful or are they about pain and gloom and awfulness. On my bad days, I pay attention to my thoughts and if they are negative I challenge them, I convert them into something more positive. Some days it is easier said than done.

Water: remain hydrated. You can’t survive without water. It makes up nearly two-thirds of your body and is essential for you to function properly. It benefits your body in everything from removing waste products in urine to lubricating your joints. It can even make your skin look good.

 

Weight. Being overweight does not help. Find out if you are at or  near your ideal weight. 

 

 

A metaphysical overview of atherosclerosis

When we explore health through a metaphysical lens, we aim to get to the root cause of disease, to the spiritual underpinning of your health condition, to how your mind and attitudes affect your body and health.

Atherosclerosis manifests by a hardening of the arteries and arterioles, the small, specialised blood vessels which play a big role in heart health, and mostly involves exhaustion and a loss of elasticity at the level of their walls, an increasingly weak dilation and blood flow capacity.

 

Some characteristics of the person with atherosclerosis

 

  • the person has hardened inside in thought, beliefs, and attitudes

  • they most likely will have developed a hard hearted attitude

  • they have a very strong resistance to others, to life, and you may find them stubborn

  • they often have fixed and pitiless ideas, and are often uncompromising, rigid and without compassion

  • they are likely to be inflexible

  • they tend to see only the dark or negative side of life

  • strong sense of duty and to get things right

  • fear not being competent or able

  • if a man, feel unable to be a good father, a good provider – may have regrets and guilts

  • feels s/he has to fend for oneself, to do it all by him or herself

 

This person finds it difficult and almost refuses to see the good in life, more than likely because s/he has lost faith in life and living, may be tired, and almost refuses to continue. Though not necessarily suicidal, they may feel they do not want to believing.

 

There may be a sense of an internal conflict - with the soul struggling between allowing the person to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh and in leading a spiritual life with personally decided values that almost sub-consciously whisper that it is wrong to enjoy. It's one way or the other.  Add into the mix someone struggling with living their sexual identity in an honouring and authentic way and often they simply put their life on hold, become rigid, do not want to be here. The flow of life is severely impeded (as is the blood in the physical life.)

It is useful to be aware that there is a powerful relationship between sexuality and spirituality in the human psyche. Our sexuality is not simply about gender identity or strong biological urges; it has, importantly, a spiritual reality, a spiritual dimension.

 

Through the ages, mystics* have known and taught that sexuality is the outer physical manifestation of a deep spiritual urge for a strong mystical union with God, or to re-establish an intimate relationship between the human soul and the eternal Spirit.

 

*A mystic is essentially a person who pursues a truth or understanding beyond those normally associated with the human experience. They seek the ability to see through the fog of everyday circumstances to discern the pure light of holiness, to seek union with the ultimate Divine.

 

But in recent centuries, sexuality has become degraded by the spiritually unaware and spiritually ill-informed. The need for reconnecting to God is so strong an urge in some, often beyond their conscious awareness, or at least without an awareness of the real truth underlying their desires, they are often driven to the lowest forms of sexual expression.

 

So there is this fight or struggle between giving in to ones physical urges versus honouring a higher thought form.

 

This person also tends to focus on being negative and stubborn with others, often criticising small unimportant details and do so to deflect attention from their own lack of ability to adapt to life and lead it as they really would wish, more flowingly and spontaneously.

What to do?

 

So what might this person do, drawing on the above metaphysical understandings, to help with their atherosclerosis?

 

In essence the metaphysical understandings point to some significant lifestyle changes that would help in addition to some serious attitudinal and belief changes.

 

So to recover physical, emotional and spiritual health, the person suffering from atherosclerosis needs ...

 

... first to accept that life is meant to be lived and that whilst moral codes and values help, it is worth monitoring to see where they may be too strictly applied and in fact causing  health issues. A belief that "sex is bad" may need to be reviewed.

 

They need to be more open to life and living it to the full, to being open and receptive to all good the universe has to offer

 

They could aim to be more flexible, compromising, less rigid in their thinking, accept too that other people don’t always have their high standards and will make mistakes.

 

Indeed, they could allow themselves the possibility that it’s ok to mistakes, one can apologise, and one can learn from them.

 

In interpersonal relations much could be done to adopt a more accommodating and personable personality, being less negative and controlling and demanding.

 

Above all, in opening to life, they would do well to make space for love, including love of self, pleasure and joy of living.

 

As they soften, the body will respond.

Author's note: When I was first given a diagnosis of atherosclerosis and claudication the consultants made very brief explanations as to what the conditions were. It was all very matter of fact. I did not know enough to ask informed questions. What rang in my ears was that they were incurable and I would have them for life. By doing my own research I have learned there is much I can do to help myself.

 

ACT   F.A.S.T.

Are you or someone else having a stroke?

Face – has their face fallen on one side?

Can they smile?

Arms – can they raise both arms and keep them there?

Speech – is their speech slurred?

Time to call 999 if you see any single one of these signs of a stroke.

Go with the flow of life

© 2017,2018,2019  by Andrew Hunter

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