This should be a lesson to all that as far as heart disease is concerned, exercise is the most vital preventive measure. It is better to be fat but fit than thin and unfit. Although maintaining ideal weight is important, we have seen so many people getting heart attacks even though they were not fat. Controlling the cholesterol is also a must ( to have high HDL portion or good cholesterol, and low LDL portion or bad cholesterol ), but there are so many other factors that determine whether the cholesterol will actually clog up your coronary arteries or not. Whilst the risk of atherosclerosis increases with the level of cholesterol ( with the HDL and LDL proportions being not healthy ), between individuals, there are people with high cholesterol who have clean coronary arteries, and others with lower cholesterol whose coronaries are clogged up.
His doctors put him on several drugs and advised him to limit his physical activity, which also meant no exercise. I put him on several health supplements and advised him to lose weight. Although he had practised Qigong before, I taught him a new set of exercises that included heart-energizing exercises.
In the last 6 weeks he lost about 5 kg, and looked and felt much healthier. He was also the best student in his group when it came to doing the Qigong exercises correctly. He is determined to reverse his unhealthy state.
This week he underwent angioplasty to unclog two of his blocked coronary arteries. We do not know how bad his arteries were before he changed his diet and lifestyle. Also, 6 weeks is too short a time to expect significant reversal of damage that accumulated over years. However, if he continues to take care of his health, his risk of a repeat heart attack will be lowered.
Ramlan was 41 when he got his heart attack and underwent angioplasty to reopen his clogged heart arteries. That was 13 years ago. He had led a stressful life due to the nature of his work, and was not particular about his diet. He also hardly exercised. He did not smoke, but his cholesterol was high. He also had a strong family history of heart attacks, with several cousins and uncles afflicted in their forties.
Since that episode, he changed his diet and exercised diligently. But he could not change his job. The doctors also put him on over 10 different drugs! His cholesterol was maintained at an ideal level for heart attack victims ( which is lower than for the rest of us ) and he is not overweight. Yet, over the years, his heart condition worsened in spite of all these measures. Now, at 54, all except one of his major coronary arteries are severely blocked again, and his heart is pumping at only 30% capacity. The cardiologists told him that it is too risky to attempt angioplasty or by-pass surgery, and his only hope would be a heart transplant. He was also cautioned not to exert himself.
Ramlan’s case illustrates that like many other medical problems, management is not that simple. Doing everything possible medically still did not help him enough. And there are other factors that are impossible ( eg. genes/family history ) or difficult ( eg. job ) to change. In his case, the family history and stress/work factors remained.
Obviously, there are other factors that we have to look into to try to help patients like Ramlan. Nutritional healing and Qigong are two of these.
THE MAHOGANY FRUIT EXTRACT
When I was in Tawau several months ago, I met a 4-year old boy who had severe heart disease and fainted three or four times everyday despite the doctors’ drugs. Then the mother gave him adult doses of the mahogany fruit extract ( in capsules ). Within one week he stopped having the fainting episodes, and was much better. I also met another 55-year old gentleman who was scheduled for a heart operation. According to him, he cancelled the operation because he was much better after taking the mahogany fruit capsules. These two cases show that there are surprising remedies in the plants that surround us. There were so many other unexpected healings from a variety of health problems after taking this fruit extract. I would strongly encourage those with deteriorating heart conditions to consider nutritional healing in addition to their drugs, especially if the drugs do not seem to make them better.
Although there are insufficient data to generally recommend these supplements as therapy, those that have end-stage diseases have nothing to lose. These are foodstuff and are generally safe.
In the past we were excited by the noni fruit extract only after western scientific studies proved their nutritional contents, whereas our own grandmothers were using it to treat all sorts of health problems. The current rage in USA is the very high anti-oxidant properties of mangosteen extract, something that we have also largely ignored. Apart from the health benefits from these local fruits, there is a whole health supplement industry that can be exploited using these natural resources. Even the durian is being researched for potential anti-cancer nutrients, but it is the seed and not the succulent flesh!
QIGONG FOR THE HEART
There are several Qigong exercises that help the heart. These are those that stimulate the heart acupoint in the palm of the hand, and also send Qi through the heart meridien described before. One beautiful and enjoyable exercise is done by rotating a wooden rod (with rounded edges) in between the palms to stimulate the heart points as we go through the movements and breathing. This modification can be added to several of the usual exercises.
Those who like doing the Qigong walk can also do brisk walking and get both the benefits of Qigong and cardiovascular fitness.
RETURN TO LUCKY VALLEY
There was so much interest in Lucky Valley after I wrote about my first visit there, and many readers had requested to join me in my next trip there. Well, those who are keen can join me on the weekend of 17-19 September. The activities there will include those that will enhance the body, mind and spirit. Qigong and meditative exercises will be held in the energy pyramid, in the wooden hut, and by the lake. The 7-kilometer hike will definitely be good for the heart, and the scenery good for the albums! If we are lucky, there may still be some ripe fruits for the picking.