Arteriosclerosis is one of the most common diseases of the blood vessels. It refers to a thickening of the walls of the arteries due to the presence of calcium or lime. It has become a common ailment in modern times, accounting for much of the disability and high death rate among older people.
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Arteriosclerosis is usually preceded by atherosclerosis, a kind of degeneration or softening of the inner lining of the blood vessels walls. The most risky places for such degeneration are the coronary vessels of the heart and the arteries leading to the brain. Arteriosclerosis results in the loss of elasticity of the blood vessels, with a narrowing of the smaller arteries, which interferes with the free circulation of the blood. These changes may gradually extend to capillaries and veins.
Arteriosclerosis is more frequent in men than women, especially in the younger age-group. It has been estimated that 40 per cent of all men over 40 years have a significant degree of obstruction of their coronary arteries and this can lead to heart attack at any time.
The symptoms of arteriosclerosis vary with arteries involved. Signs of inadequate blood supply generally appear first in the legs. There may be numbness and coldness in the feet and cramps and pains in the legs even after light exercise. If the coronary arteries are involved, the patient may have sharp pains, characteristic of angina pectoris.
When arteries leading to the brain are involved, the vessel may burst, causing hemorrhage in the brain tissues. A cerebral vascular stroke, with partial or complete paralysis of one side of the body may result, if there is blockage with a blood clot. It may also lead to loss of memory and a confused state of mind in elderly people. If arteries leading to the kidneys are involved, the patient may suffer from high blood pressure and kidney disorders.
The most important cause of arteriosclerosis is excessive intake of white sugar, refined foods and high fat diet, rich in cholesterol. A sedentary life and excesses of all kinds are the major contributing causes. Hardening of the arteries may also be caused by other diseases such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, rheumatism, Bright’s disease, malaria, syphilis.
Emotional stress also plays an important part, and heart attacks are more common during the periods of mental and emotional disturbances, particularly in those engaged in sedentary occupations. Heredity also plays its role and this disease runs in families.
If the causes of arteriosclerosis are known, remedial action should be taken promptly to remove them. To begin with the patient should resort to a short juice fast for five to seven days. All available fresh, raw vegetables and fruit juices in season may be taken. Grape-fruit juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice and juices of green vegetables are especially beneficial.
A warm water enema should be used daily to cleanse the bowels during the period of fasting. After the juice fast, the patient should take optimum diet made up from three basic food groups, namely (i) seeds, nuts and grains, (ii) vegetables and, (iii) fruits, with emphasis on raw foods.