The heart is a specialized muscle that pumps the blood to the entire body. It coordinates its action with the lungs to bring oxygen and eliminate carbon dioxide from the body. It is composed of four chambers; the two upper chambers receive the blood and the two lower chambers pump the blood to other parts of the body.
The right half is responsible for accepting carbon dioxide blood from the body and sending it to the lungs to exchange it for oxygen, and the left side gets the oxygenated blood from the lungs and then sends it out to the rest of the body. There are valves between the upper chambers and the lower chambers that prevent a backflow of blood from occurring. Sometimes these get damaged from infection, trauma or birth defects and cause murmurs or other heart disease.
The left half is more muscular as it has to pump the blood to a larger part of the body than the right half. The difference in function between the two halves explains the difference in pressures, which is normally written as 120/80, the 120 representing the systemic pressure needed to pump the blood to the body and the 80 representing the pressure needed to pump the blood to the lungs. This would be analogous to the pressure needed to deliver water to an entire city versus the pressure needed to suck water up through a straw from the bottom of the glass into your mouth. And it also explains why adding extra weight to the system can increase blood pressure, as one pound of fat requires five miles of additional blood vessels; the longer the length of the pipes, the more pressure is needed!
The circulatory system (heart and blood vessels) is responsible for getting the nutrients and waste products in and out of the tissues throughout the body. This includes the gases (the oxygen and carbon dioxide) and other chemicals, i.e. food substances, medications, metabolic waste materials and environmental toxins.
I recently attended a course taught by a physical therapist on how to improve anyone’s heart health using manual therapy techniques. Since cardiac disease is the number one killer in America, this course presented valuable information that could potentially benefit many people. Here’s what I learned in the class:
Could heart disease be caused by infection?
Numerous articles in scientific and medical journals cite infection as a primary cause of cardiac disease. If the demands placed on the body are too great, the systems go into overload and dysfunction occurs.
Someone who lives in a very polluted environment, eats foods full of preservatives and toxic chemicals, uses soaps containing toxins, and takes drugs with toxic side effects suddenly gets a viral infection. Chances are this person’s liver and kidneys cannot handle all that “traffic” and, as a result, the excess toxins continue to circulate through the system and end up back at the heart.
These toxins and/or infections can irritate the heart tissue, causing weakness in the cell structures and if left in contact long enough, might even cause a rupture in the vessel or organ wall.
Would you ever think of a heart attack as one of the body’s protective mechanisms?
In fact, cardiac surgeons have theorized the body may even use a fatty plaque to cover up a leak in a blood vessel or even go so far as to cause a heart attack to scar the area to prevent bleeding to death.
Others have suggested muscle spasms help to close off a leaky vessel and blood vessels might spasm to contain an infection so it doesn’t spread throughout the body, similar to the chamber walling off in submarines to seal off a leak.
What can a person do to prevent this leaky vessel syndrome?
For starters, you can reduce your exposure to toxicity by decreasing your ingestion of toxic chemicals in foods. Eat pesticide free vegetables and fruits and animal and dairy products containing fewer chemicals.
Many of the foods we eat contain antibiotics and hormones to make the animals grow bigger and stay healthier. Learn the common toxic ingredients in soaps and other products absorbed by the skin.
How can physical therapy help?
Specially trained people can help the heart function better by stimulating the body’s healing mechanisms. These manual therapy techniques include relaxing muscle spasms allowing for better blood flow, opening lymph vessels for better immune function, assisting the body to close up leaks and stimulating the immune function of the body. Eastern exercise focuses on boosting a body’s immune capabilities and promoting better organ functioning.
The body has an amazing capacity to function in spite of tremendous breakdown. Surgery should be the last resort in dealing with these breakdowns. Help yourself by giving your body a chance to reduce the stress and strain you put on it.
Diet, activity, mental attitude and environment all affect the functioning of the body and are within our control. Sometimes you need help finding the right combination that doesn’t shock the system and is easily implemented. Get informed and seek out the answers from a multi-pronged approach.