Top Natural Remedies for Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is currently the leading cause of death among adults in the western world — and according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it has maintained this ranking as the No. 1 killer since 1921. (1)
Coronary heart disease is a condition caused by the buildup of waxy plaque in the arteries that flow to and from the heart. CHD often goes by several other names, including coronary artery disease, heart disease and arteriosclerotic heart disease.
What is heart disease caused by, and what does this tell us about how to prevent it? Most cardiovascular disorders are related to elevated inflammation levels — so, as you’ll learn, by reducing inflammation, the root of most diseases, you can place your body in a state that is conducive to healing.
What Is Coronary Heart Disease?
CHD occurs when the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart narrow and sometimes harden, which over time can cause ruptures, heart attacks and other fatal conditions.
Heart disease is sometimes called a “disease of Western, modern civilization” because it was rare before 1900, and still remains much less common in pre-industrialized populations today. (2) By the mid-1900s, coronary heart disease became the nation’s biggest killer, and today all forms of cardiovascular diseases — including conditions of the heart and blood vessels like angina, congestive heart failure and stroke — are still the leading causes of death in many Western nations. Cardiovascular diseases kill more than 630,000 Americans a year, men and women pretty much equally. (3) Currently, heart disease is the cause of about 1 in every 4 deaths in the U.S. (4)
Coronary Heart Disease Symptoms
Not everyone who has CHD even knows it — especially people who are in the early stages. Some symptoms of CHD can be very noticeable, however, it’s also possible to have this disease and experience no symptoms at all or only slight symptoms.
Coronary artery disease symptoms vary a lot from person to person. The most common noticeable sign of CHD is having chest pain or discomfort, which is caused when the heart is not getting enough blood or oxygen.
Other coronary artery disease symptoms can include: (7)
- Feeling a “heaviness” or like someone is squeezing your heart. This is called angina (another name for chest pain) and is probably the most
- common blocked artery symptom. It’s possible to experience various forms of chest discomfort including heaviness, tightness, pressure, aching,
- burning, numbness or fullness.
- Pains or numbness in your breastbone (sternum), neck, arms, stomach or upper back
- Shortness of breath and fatigue with activity
- General weakness
- Indigestion or heartburn
If CHD progresses, you may experience a heart attack, also called myocardial infarction. Heart attack symptoms can include:
- Pain or discomfort in the upper body including the chest, arms, left shoulder, back, neck, jaw or stomach
- Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
- Feeling of fullness, indigestion, choking or heartburn
- Nausea or vomiting
- Light-headedness, dizziness and weakness
- Anxiety and panic
- Rapid or irregular heartbeats
Coronary Heart Disease Causes
What are risk factors for developing coronary heart disease? (8)
- High amounts of free radical damage (also called oxidative stress) and low antioxidant levels in the body. When antioxidant levels are lower than those of free radicals due to poor nutrition and other lifestyle factors, oxidation wreaks havoc in the body — damaging cells, breaking down tissue, mutating DNA and overloading the immune system.
- Being a male, since men develop CHD more other than women (although it affects both sexes)
- Being over the age of 65
- High consumption of alcohol
- Eating a poor diet with unhealthy fats and processed foods
- Family history of coronary heart disease, stroke or peripheral arterial disease
- Menopause in women
- Having high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol levels
- Lack of physical activity or exercise
- Sleep deprivation
- Exposure to environmental pollutants and toxic chemicals
Conventional Treatment for Coronary Heart Disease
Half a century ago, coronary heart disease killed an even greater percentage of those who suffered from it, but fortunately, doctors today are more adept at using various treatments to control heart disease symptoms. Some of these are effective at lowering blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol, but many simply target symptoms and don’t focus on the bigger picture.
Many doctors place people with coronary heart disease on a treatment plan that includes both prescription medications and lifestyle changes. Depending on which healthcare professional you choose, your symptoms and how severe the disease is, you might be prescribed one or more medicines to treat your high blood pressure high cholesterol or to prevent complications like diabetes.
7 Natural Remedies for Coronary Heart Disease
1. Lifestyle Changes (Quitting Smoking & Eating A Healthy Diet)
A 2016 study found that living a healthy lifestyle — including exercising, eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables and grains and not smoking — can lower your risk of heart disease, even if you are genetically predisposed to developing the disease. The study looked at 55,685 participants total in three prospective cohorts and one cross-sectional study. According to The New York Times:
The investigators found that genes can double the risk of heart disease, but a good lifestyle cuts it in half. Just as important, they found, a terrible lifestyle erases about half of the benefits of good genetics. (9) (10)
2. Avoiding Inflammatory Foods
Should you eat a low-fat diet to prevent heart disease? When most people think of foods that increase their chances of developing heart disease, fatty cuts of meat and fried food probably come to mind. For many years, the public was led to believe that cholesterol-rich foods and saturated fats of all kinds increased the risk of heart disease. “The cholesterol hypothesis,” as it’s called, rested on the assumption that saturated fats raise cholesterol levels that wind up clogging the arteries. (11)
Many experts today now believe that elevated blood cholesterol is a symptom, not a cause, of heart disease. Whether or not someone’s blood cholesterol level is increased by eating a certain food depends on that person’s individual cholesterol makeup, and each person is different. Several recent studies have shown that the dynamics of cholesterol homeostasis and of development of CHD are extremely complex and multifactorial. This suggests that the previously established relationship between dietary cholesterol and heart disease risk was overexaggerated. (12)
In the majority of people, the real cause of heart disease may be inflammation. (13) Foods to avoid to prevent CHD that promote inflammation include:
- Corn and soybean oils
- Pasteurized, conventional dairy
- Refined carbohydrates
- Conventional meat
- Sugars of all kinds
- Trans fats
3. Eating a Heart-Healthy Diet
Following a healthy, whole-foods–based diet can reduce inflammation, high blood pressure and unhealthy high cholesterol. Of course, eating well will also help you maintain a healthy weight and have more energy to be active, both of which are important for preventing coronary heart disease. Instead of focusing on eating low-fat foods to reduce fat and cholesterol, I believe we would be much better off making our goal to reduce inflammation.
The healthiest anti-inflammatory foods for fighting coronary heart disease are those brimming with antioxidants and phytonutrients that lower your immune system’s overactive response. These help fight free radical damage and target the problem where it starts by lowering oxidative stress.
4. Using Heart-Healthy Supplements
You’ll get the most benefits from a healthy diet when you consume real foods that provide natural, absorbable nutrients. That being said, some supplements added to a nutrient-dense diet may also be helpful for treating heart problems.
While there are really too many types and benefits of exercise to list here, just know that exercise helps restore and maintain cardiovascular health by improving blood flow, bringing more oxygen to your cells, managing hormones and blood sugar levels and helping you relax. This makes it one of the most powerful things you can to do prevent clogged arteries.
6. Stress Reduction
Stress raises cortisol levels and may interfere with inflammatory responses when left unmanaged. Chronic stress caused by our modern, fast-paced lifestyles can affect just about every bodily system — suppressing the immune system, slowing metabolism, and stalling digestion, detoxification and cell regeneration.
7. Essential Oils
There are many natural plant-derived essential oils that can help manage inflammation and symptoms related to heart disease. (20) Some include lemongrass oil, helichrysum oil and ginger oil. (21, 22, 23)
Final Thoughts on Coronary Heart Disease
- Coronary heart disease (CHD) occurs when the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart narrow and sometimes harden, which over time can cause ruptures, heart attacks and other fatal conditions.
- Many people use the names coronary artery disease (CAD) and coronary heart disease (CAH) interchangeably. Coronary artery disease is considered the most common type of heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and many other developed/industrialized nations.
- Causes and risk factors of coronary heart disease include: being a male, being over 65, family history of heart disease, eating a poor diet, obesity, being sedentary, smoking, and having high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol levels.
- Natural treatments for coronary heart disease include: lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, avoiding inflammatory foods, eating a heart-healthy diet, taking anti-inflammatory supplements, exercising, managing stress, and using essential oils.