Coronary heart disease is responsible for one out of every three deaths in the United States, making it the number one cause of death in the country (Jackson, 2017). Coronary artery disease (CAD), the buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries with restricted blood flow to the heart muscle, is an often asymptomatic precursor for coronary heart disease (CHD) and subsequent heart attack and stroke. The major problem with CHD is it is often a silent killer - “causing one-third of all deaths in people older than 35 years” (Sanchis-Gomar, 2016). Unfortunately, most western diagnostic testing for coronary heart disease is only useful for detecting advanced stages of the disease where most of the damage (greater than 70%) has already been done, which often requires highly invasive surgical intervention. Furthermore, drug therapy consisting of antiplatelet drugs (aspirin), statins, beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, which aim to mask the risk factors for heart disease (i.e. elevated cholesterol and hypertension), come with a host of side-effects and are only minimally effective for preventing heart attack and stroke (Medication for the long-term treatment of coronary artery disease, 2017). For example, statins used in patients for heart disease prevention taken daily for 5 years demonstrated only a “1.2% lower chance of death, a 2.6% lower chance of heart attack, and a 0.8% lower chance of stroke” (Walker, 2013). Statin use is subsequently correlated with the development of diabetes in 1 in 50 patients and muscle damage in 1 in 10 patients (Walker, 2013).
Within Chinese medicine, however, there are reliable diagnostic measures that can be used to detect subtle changes in heart function, to assess blood flow through the heart and coronary arteries, and predict future occurrence of heart disease through the palpation of the radial pulse and visual inspection of the auricle (ear). Using this information, patients can be treated with Chinese herbal medicine from a young age to vasodilate the heart, improve blood flow, and decrease plaque formation even before the condition is diagnosed by an MD or cardiologist. Chinese herbs can be used as preventative treatment, have an extremely low rate of adverse reactions, can be effective for all stages of the disease with cumulative and long-lasting effects, and have a much shorter treatment duration compared to drugs. Implementing early diagnosis and preventive measures with Chinese herbal medicine can inhibit CAD from turning into deadly CHD and increase lifespan.
In 2017, a systematic review evaluated 56 relevant clinical studies for the treatment of cardiovascular disease with Chinese herbal medicine. Chinese herbs were shown to have positive effects in the treatment of diseases correlating with CHD including: essential hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, pre-diabetes, heart failure and atherosclerotic heart disease (Hao et al., 2017). Chinese herbal medicine has been proven to be an effective treatment for coronary artery disease through the use of herbs which activate blood circulation and remove blood stasis. Chinese herbs are used for their “antiplatelet function, vascular endothelium protection, myocardial remodeling, and microcirculation improvement” as well as for the regulation of angiogenesis in atherosclerosis and myocardial ischemia (Yuan et al., 2018). The regulatory effects of Chinese herbal medicine make it a safe option for both the treatment of CAD and prevention of CHD.
Coronary Artery Disease - Coronary Heart Disease. (n.d.). Retrieved November 6, 2018, from http://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/consumer-healthcare/what-is-cardiovascular-disease/coronary-artery-disease
Jackson, E. A. (2017, February 9). Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics: 2017 Update. Retrieved November 11, 2018, from https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/ten-points-to-remember/2017/02/09/14/58/heart-disease-and-stroke-statistics-2017
Sanchis-Gomar, F., Perez-Quilis, C., Leischik, R., & Lucia, A. (2016, July). Epidemiology of coronary heart disease and acute coronary syndrome. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4958723
Suen, L., Lau, Y., Ma, H., Lai, K., & Holroyd, E. (2012, December 24). Predictive Value of Auricular Diagnosis on Coronary Heart Disease. Retrieved from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/706249/
Yuan, R., Shi, W., Xin, Q., Chen, K., & Cong, W. (2018, August 13). Holistic Regulation of Angiogenesis with Chinese Herbal Medicines as a New Option for Coronary Artery Disease. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6110048/
Walker, G. (2018, November 2). Statins for Heart Disease Prevention (With Known Heart Disease) – TheNNT. Retrieved from http://www.thennt.com/nnt/statins-for-heart-disease-prevention-with-known-heart-disease/