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Heart Health: Holistic Integrative Approach

Developed and Implemented by Dr Arien van der Merwe MBChB ASCHP MISMA


Introduction: The heart: where the physical body, high vibrational love and the soul meet

Summary natural, integrative holistic approach:  The natural, integrative holistic treatment options are aimed at improving energy metabolism inside the heart’s cells, as well as blood supply to the heart, while simultaneously facilitating the welcoming, releasing and surrendering of blocked emotional and mental energy.

A thorough heart health risk evaluation should form part of everybody’s yearly preventative medical examination, whether or not you have symptoms or a positive history. Listed screening tests, incl. homocysteine, ECG, general exam.

Symptoms differ in women

These six heart attack symptoms are common in women:

  • Chest pain or discomfort. Chest pain is the most common heart attack symptom, but some women may experience it differently than men. … uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Stomach pain. …
  • Shortness of breath, nausea, or lightheadedness…with or without chest discomfort
  • Sweating…breaking out in cold sweat
  • Fatigue.

We always associate chest pain with heart attacks, and for good reason, but it’s not the whole story — especially for women. While chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack, women can have symptoms that aren’t related to chest pain at all. They need to be on the lookout for other, subtler symptoms

Also, we need to dig deeper into the symptom of chest pain for both men and women as it relates to heart attacks. It is seldom as dramatic as you might think, and it can feel like pressure or heart burn that  comes on over time.

3 subtle symptoms women especially should watch for, including information about how to tell if they are benign or cause for concern.

  1. Unusual fatigue

Like many women, you’re probably busy most of the time. You may take care of a family, run a household, work outside the home and care for aging parents. You are probably also tired a lot of the time. Most likely this is normal.

But you should pay attention to fatigue if it is new or dramatic. Here’s what to watch out for:

You are suddenly worn out after your typical exercise routine.

You aren’t exerting yourself, but have fatigue or a “heavy” chest.

Simple activity like making the bed, walking to the bathroom or shopping makes you excessively tired.

Although you feel exceptionally tired, you also experience sleep disturbance.

  1. Sweating and/or shortness of breath

As women age, a lack of exercise and gradual weight gain cause issues like shortness of breath. Hot flashes are a common complaint for many women during menopause.

But these symptoms can signal a heart problem when they happen in certain situations:

  • Sudden sweating or shortness of breath without exertion
  • Breathlessness that continues to worsen over time after exertion
  • Shortness of breath that worsens when lying down and improves when propping up
  • “Stress” sweat (cold, clammy feeling) when there is no real cause for stress
  • Sweating or shortness of breath accompanied by other symptoms such as chest pain or fatigue
  1. Neck, jaw, back pain

As intricate as our body’s systems are, they are very adept at giving signals when there is something wrong. When there is a problem with the heart, it triggers nerves in that area, but you sometimes feel pain elsewhere – called referred pain.

Pain in the jaw, back or arms may signal a heart condition, especially if the origin is hard to pinpoint (for example there is no specific muscle or joint that aches). Also, if the discomfort begins or worsens when you are exerting yourself, and then stops when you quit exercising, you should get it checked out.

Here are some other signs to look out for:

Women,  in particular,  can have pain in either arm — not just the left one like many men.

Pain in the lower or upper back often starts in the chest and spreads to these areas.

The pain is sometimes sudden, not due to physical exertion, and can wake you up at night.

You may feel pain that is specific to the left, lower side of the jaw.

If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.

Natural, integrative, holistic approach using the health coaching wheel:

Level 1 (part 1 initial 12 week program): Physical, mental-emotional aspects of individual’s life – moving into soul

Level 2 (part 2 progressive coaching program adjusted to patient needs): Exploring relationships, work-life balance, spiritual aspects of individual’s life

Level 1

  • Physical
    1. Weight adjustments – focusing on fat loss
    2. Cardio and resistance training program
    3. Eating guidelines adjusted to heart heath
    4. Most important nutrients and herbal remedies for heart health:
    • Antioxidant combination with enough vitamins A, E, C and minerals zinc, selenium, chromium
    • High dosages (50-100mg each) of the B-complex vitamins B1, 3, 5, 6, choline, inositol; 50 microgram of B12 & biotin; 400 microgram of folic acid
    • Magnesium and calcium in therapeutic quantities
    • Co-enzyme Q10 in therapeutic quantities
    • Hawthorn (Crateagus oxyacantha) berry in therapeutic quantities
    • Essential fatty acids, especially omega 3 found in cold water fish
    • Ginkgo biloba in therapeutic quantities
    • Garlic – eat crushed garlic in your food – at least 3 cloves a day, with parsley for the smell, or take garlic capsules
    • Phyto (plant) oestrogens, e.g. soybeans, chick peas, lentils, linseed


    • Have your homocysteine (a sulphur containing amino acid) risk measured together with your regular lipid profile tests
    • High levels mean high risk: accumulated homocysteine damage the inner lining of the arteries, and encourages the formation of atherosclerosis
    • A study done at Ohio State University in the USA, showed a link between high homocysteine levels and an attitude of hostility and anger – finally science has caught up with the mind-soul-body link! The stress associated with hostility and anger may elevate homocysteine levels, accelerating damage to the inside of the arterial walls (atherosclerosis)
    • The treatment is cheap, simple and extremely effective: These nutrients ensure the conversion of homocysteine into beneficial antioxidants. People with a genetic tendency for high homocysteine levels, often have a deficiency of these nutrients: 400 IU’s vitamin E; 50mg vitamin B6; 50 microgram B12; 400 microgram folic acid


  • Mental-Emotional

Heartfelt feelings

We often say: my heart’s not in it anymore; my heart is sore; my heart is breaking. This is much more literal than we thought! In all cultures and religions, the experience of peace, love, healing and harmony are seated in the heart and thymus (responsible for immunity) region in the chest. Feelings of love also have a positive influence on the immune system, hormones and cognitive brain function.

In his book, ‘Love & Survival’, Dr Dean Ornish says that the most important contributing factor to heart health, is the love and intimacy found in close relationships. Research has shown that people in Japan and France (both countries with low heart disease risk) have very close family and friendship links, signifying the perception they have of having a support system in times of trouble. Lack of love and intimacy has been shown to be the most consistent predictor of heart disease! This is a more consistent factor than genetics and risk factors such as obesity, too little exercise, high LDL-cholesterol, poor nutrition and smoking.

Even some of the risk factors can be attributable to lack of social interaction and feeling isolated and alone! People smoke, drink, or overeat as an ineffective, harmful way of stilling the mind from the stressful monkey chatter, to try and prevent the emotions from surfacing.

All these are stressors or triggers for the stress reaction where the heart and cardiovascular system are constantly put in red alert to react in the classical stress response: fight or flight!

Understanding  blocked emotions, does NOT imply that you CAUSE your disease on purpose! The process occurs on a deeply unconscious level in cell memories. You can however, become consciously aware of these issues and through process work, help your inner self to heal, leading to personal power and inner peace.

    • Healing ideas for your heart: physical, mental-emotional (from mind to body)
    • Opening your heart to healing your physical body to release cell memories, optimise physical health and use the body to connect you to your mind, emotions and soul essence
    • Identify body signals of severe stress: feel the pain, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, depression
    • Breathing exercises to open the chest area, expand the lungs, increase oxygenation of cells: belly or diaphragmatic breathing, bellows breathing, alternate nostril breathing
    • Progressive deep muscle relaxation
    • Specific yoga exercises: head, neck and shoulder stretches and rotations; cobra pose; half locust pose; head-to-knee pose; forward bending pose; shoulder stand, even if you simply lift your feet onto the seat of a chair; chest extension or fish pose; spinal twist; sun salutation; dead man’s pose to end
    • Work with arms – reaching out, drawing in with dance movements such as Nia technique, and slow, mindful movement like Tai ‘chi.
    • Following a heart health eating plan
    • Opening your heart to healing your emotions or feelings towards yourself and others
    • Work on releasing past emotional injuries and hurts
    • Forgiveness of self and others
    • Work on relationships, release of sorrow, guilt, acceptance of self and others
    • Anger management: learn how to acknowledge the intense energy of anger and allow it proper expression
    • Opening your heart to healing your thoughts
    • Use heart centered positive affirmations and directed visualisations to sense feelings of love, joy, peace and happiness within the heart. Also using the image of the sun, placing it in the heart and then allowing the moon to place itself over the heart. This allows for a balance of male and female energies within the heart.
    • Go on a journey of self discovery: deeply ingrained unconscious patterns of behaviour that do not serve you any longer, through journaling, psychotherapy, free hand writing
    • Opening your heart to connect to your soul
    • Meditate regularly: mindfulness, witnessing, visualization meditations work well for the heart
    • Releasing the shadow deep inside the unconscious mind through transpersonal and soul based psychotherapy
    • Quiet time, soul reflection and contemplation

Bottomline: the heart of the matter

  • When people open their hearts to unselfish, unconditional love, a whole new world of possibilities opens. Rather than spending effort avoiding the selfishness of others, they spend time making sure that the way they choose to serve society is done in the best way possible. When people can trust others to treat each other with love and respect rather than as competitors, then everyone gains.
  • As heart-centered awareness grows and blooms within society, people’s primary focus will shift away from service to self and towards service to others. When it does, the world will transform out of all recognition.
  • But you don’t have to wait for all of society to catch up. In both your personal and professional dealings with people, you have a reputation, and it is fed by word-of-mouth recommendation. Build your reputation as someone who tends to give more than is expected of them, and you will find yourself becoming increasingly popular in both your business and personal lives. People respond to heartfelt action and, as they say, what goes around comes around.
  • Action and reaction are opposite and equal in all types of thought and action. Your heartfelt action, by automatic reaction, will create a heartfelt reality among you and the people who are attracted to your energy. When you operate mainly out of a heart-centered frequency, you will notice that people are attracted to you in all aspects of your life. Friends, lovers, professional associates; everyone will be attracted to your magnetic personality.
  • Personal magnetism has been one of the great mysteries of life simply because, in the past, so few people have operated from that heart-centered frequency of awareness on a routine basis. However, it’s really no secret. It’s just one of those common-sense facts of life.
  • The secret of personal magnetism is that the more you unconditionally love people, the more they love you.
  • You don’t have to make a big deal out of it. You don’t have to stand there like some transmitter beacon, radiating huge amounts of heart energy. Top stage performers do, but you don’t. You can be very quiet about it and everyone will be quietly drawn to you. Everyone of a similar nature, that is. Everyone who appreciates kindness and a truly warm, genuine smile.

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