Healthy Living Blog by Dr. Tetreault, DAOM, L,Ac, RRT


According to the latest American Heart Association (AHA) statistics, forty-eight percent of adults in the United States (at minimum) have some form of cardiovascular disease. This is often coronary artery disease of some sort, also termed clogged arteries. However, this refers to any disease affecting the heart or blood vessels. Having cardiovascular disease can lead to not only a heart attack or myocardial infarction (M.I.) but also stroke or peripheral artery disease. We know that having an improper diet or emotional stress or even aging can lead to poor heart health.

Major known root causes may include a poor diet high in bad fats and low in both essential fiber and nutrients, genetics, hypertension, smoking, anxiety, obesity, lack of proper exercise, and having other disease factors like diabetes.

In Eastern Medicine, emotional stress weakens the spleen energy of the body and also leads to liver energy stagnation. An improper diet can cause turbid phlegm retention. Aging can eventually lead to kidney yang deficiency with insufficient blood flow. These all can lead to a blockage of yang energy which causes an occlusion in the vascular system (both channels and vessels).  Two more common culprits of etiology for poor cardiovascular health include cold pathogens which causes an inactivity of chest yang and an overall deficient constitution.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), coronary artery disease (CAD) is actually a combination of both a deficiency and an excess. The root cause is usually a deficiency of the heart, spleen, and kidney. The excess is blood stasis, phlegm accumulation, and/or congealed cold. This accumulation is the contribution to inactivity of heart yang and leads to obstruction in the heart vasculature. This often leads to chest pain overtime and then worsens.

Whereas, cor pulmonale refers to right ventricular hypertrophy (RVH) and widening or dilatation secondary to pulmonary hypertension from lung disorder (often COPD). Cor pulmonale is one of the most known cardiac disorders. It presents as a chronic condition and is characterized by recurrent respiratory infections and often leads to a resistance to frequent antibiotic therapy. In Eastern medicine, cor pulmonale involves both the lung and kidney energy with exterior components of bacterial or viral infections and often an imbalance in water metabolism resulting in fluid overload (systemic edema).

So, despite the diagnosis or in the sheer prevention of cardiovascular disease, there is a lot that can be done. Acupuncture point selection is chosen depending on how the patient presents and is used to reinforce heart, spleen, and kidney energy. Herbal formulas are used and modified according to the patient’s individual assessment and presentation. With heart blood stasis, Ren 17 and UB 17 are both very useful along with both the Pericardium and Heart meridians. With congealed cold in the chest, moxibustion is often used with the reducing needling method.

Food therapy is much needed and the diet should be managed appropriately. Some of the food therapy choices to strengthen the heart are bitter greens like mustard greens, turnip greens, and kale. Also, corn is actually a heart nourishing food along with hawthorn berries. Low salt and low-(bad)fat is essential. Meals should be small portions and nutrient dense. The Mediterranean diet still stands tall among the best heart healthy regimens. This would include a high intake of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, and seeds. Low to moderate amounts of dairy, fish, and poultry with little to no red meats. Olive oil and good fats may be included such as avocado oil, chia, flax, and walnuts.

C-reactive protein is a major marker of inflammation in the body which includes the walls of the blood vessels. This is considered to be the best predictor of heart disease. Normal range is less than 1.0 mg/dl. Also, the Vertical Auto PROFILE (VAP) is helpful because it measures fifteen separate blood-cholesterol components compared to the standard test which only measures the four. The lipid panel or lipid profile reveals the Total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and Triglycerides levels.

Many helpful supplements include a good quality refrigerated fish oil, Coenzyme Q10, Hawthorn, and Magnesium. A research study at UCLA Medical Center showed that people taking aged garlic extract had significantly less coronary plaque formation than the placebo group. This is due to the fact that garlic naturally lowers blood homocysteine and bad cholesterol levels. There are also many wonderful herbal formulas used to nourish the heart and cardiovascular health but these are to be prescribed by your Board Certified Eastern Medicine Physician.

There are many heart patterns assessed by the practitioner. The signs and symptoms in heart patterns often reveal difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath on exertion, tiredness, palpitations, insomnia, even mental depression or confusion.  With pain in the chest, possibly extending to the arms, back, shoulders, neck, or jaw, one should always call 911 for medical emergency care. Also, profuse sweating, lowered blood pressure, or dizziness can also be critical signs to get emergent treatment.

So let’s please take heart to care for our hearts. We need to manage our internal stressors in our life as well as external and take time, even a few minutes daily, to show gratitude to ourselves and our Creator. Breathe fully both inhaling and exhaling completely. Remember to eat to live not live to eat so you can live more fully. Daily walks and daily stretches not only reduce cholesterol but greatly improve our circulation along with the art of purposefully breathing. Be grateful and let go what does not serve you.  Be sure to get proper sleep and sleep nourishes the mind (shen) which connects to the heart. Call today and let’s stay heart healthy! 772-626-6419