According to the Heart Foundation, 920,000 Americans suffer a heart attack each year, and according to the American Stroke Association , at least 795,000 Americans suffer a new or recurrent stroke or TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack, known as a mini-stroke or warning stroke) each year, resulting in 137,000 deaths. About 40% of those dying of stroke are men and 60% are women. Other risk factors to be aware of include the link between Rheumatoid Arthritis, an autoimmune disease and heart attack or stroke. According to research done by the Mayo Clinic, Rheumatoid Arthritis can double the risk of heart disease, both being related to inflammation. Another study published in the October 3, 2012 Journal of the American Medical Association showed a strong link between Rheumatoid Arthritis and blood clots, increasing risk for both heart attack and stroke. To further complicate matters, Rheumatoid Arthritis may also contribute to brain fog and mood swings. The American College of Rheumatology estimates at least 1.3 million Americans suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis, with other estimates guessing the number may be more than 2 million. It is also linked to Type II diabetes. Dr. Brent Bauer, M.D., Editorial Board Member of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter, notes that chronic inflammation is a common link among all of these and many other health issues. And, it is important to understand that if one does suffer a major heart attack or stroke, this root cause needs to be addressed as part of the recovery process. Inflammation in turn, is brought on by stress.
With both heart attack and stroke, depending on the severity, physical recovery is usually the most noticeable issue and the patient’s primary goal. Changes in diet and lifestyle can eliminate many contributing factors. Therapeutic grade essential oils, in particular Frankincense (Boswellia carteri ) and Sacred Frankincense (Boswellia sacra) can be soothing and calming which can help maintain balance in keeping up with a fast-paced life.
After a trauma, proper nutrition, adequate rest, and maintaining a positive outlook are an important part of the recovery process. However, many heart attack and stroke survivors, and their families, encounter additional obstacles, especially once the patient’s physical health has improved. It can be sometimes difficult for family and friends to understand that going through such an experience can bring about marked changes in personality or behavior, particularly as such changes are often delayed and may not be readily apparent until the patient begins to feel better physically.
This can be further intensified if the stroke or heart attack has caused other major changes in the person’s life, such as forcing early retirement. Retirement after decades of full-time work is a major adjustment for even a healthy person, but when it is forced by health issues, the patient has a double emotional impact, sorting out feelings of self-worth and how to occupy their time and have purpose in life. Marriage relationships are easily strained when suddenly both are at home occupying the same small space. If financial strain is added into the mix due to medical bills and/or delays in processing retirement, even more tension is added.
A study conducted by researchers from Columbia University Medical Center further found that 25% of people who survive a stroke or TIA, suffer from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome). Dr. Donald Edmondson, Assistant Professor of Behavioral Medicine at the University, had previously led a similar study on heart attack patients, finding one in eight suffering severe PTSD, published in the June 2012 PLOS One Journal. Both stroke and heart attack may result from build-up of plaque in the arteries, and both are also stress related. Having a heart attack makes one at high risk both for stroke and for additional heart attacks, and vice versa. A heart attack and stroke may occur together, or one soon after the other as they share the same risk factors, and in some cases it may go unnoticed that a person suffering a major heart attack may also have had a minor stroke or TIA. Both are very traumatic events in a person’s life. Consequently, even though one may physically recover from a heart attack or stroke, there can be intense changes in personality or behavior which all too often, family or friends neither understand nor know how to respond to.
PTSD may include difficulty staying asleep, the person is inclined to feel they don’t need that much sleep as subconsciously they may feel anxious or feel like they won’t wake up if they stay asleep too long. Their sleeping habits may thus become very different, and family members may also feel nervous and afraid that something is wrong if they hear the person getting up during the night or very early and moving about the house. To further complicate matters, a stroke, and to some degree, a heart attack, may alter a person’s behaviors even without the intensifying effect of PTSD, and many symptoms overlap. Depression and feelings of anxiety can be common in all. Most particularly, feelings of being overwhelmed by difficulty in focusing, and feelings of finances, relationships, and other issues skyrocketing out of control. The person may be subject to irritability and angry outbursts that may come on suddenly and unexpectedly, frightening and confusing friends and family members. This can become further tangled as much of the time the person may seem normal, rational, and able to function quite well. Family may conclude the person’s actions are deliberate and try to reason them out of it – and/or conclude they have psychological issues, again trying to reason with them.
This type of response often escalates the situation as the person feels he or she is being monitored or that family members are trying to take over and control them or tell them what to do, resulting in a vicious cycle of even more irritability and angry outbursts. Stroke and PTSD patients may both also suffer extreme sensitivity to bright light and irritated by noise. And with any of these, emotional liability may occur, where the person may seem to be laughing one minute and crying or angry the next. These are in fact very normal responses for someone who has experienced a traumatic health event, and while some changes may be somewhat permanent, most issues can be worked through for patients who are fortunate enough to have family who are able to handle the ups and downs and provide strong understanding and emotional support.
Therapeutic grade essential oils may help support emotional well-being:
- Cedarwood (Cedrus atlanticus) diffused or applied topically, it is noted for its calming influence and purifying ability. On a physical level, Cedarwood may help support healthy circulatory and lymphatic systems .
- Peace & Calming, a proprietary blend of Young Living, the leading producer of genuine therapeutic grade oils for more than 20 years, may be supportive in lifting the spirits and encouraging a deep and calming sense of relaxation, peace and emotional well-being. It may help promote restful sleep, while reducing occasional bouts of nervous irritability or minor stress and anxious feelings . Peace & Calming is a blend of five special oils:
- Blue Tansy (Tanacetum annuum) helps to support the liver and lymphatic system. It helps support emotional well being and positive outlook.
- Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) is very high in sesquiterpenes. It may be uplifting and refreshing to the mind and help support healthy emotional balance, a feeling of being grounded and centered.
- Tangerine (Citrus nobilis) helps calm occasional feelings of anxiousness and nervous tension
- Orange (Citrus sinensis) refreshing and uplifting, and helps to elevate the mind,helps support feelings of joy and peace.
- Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) helps support confidence and equilibrium, and provides a relaxing influence that is balancing to the male and feeling energies
- Valor is another specialized blend of Young Living. Valor includes four key oils blended in a base of sweet almond oil.
- Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora) may be relaxing to overworked muscles and helps support a healthy immune system.
- Blue Tansy (Tanacetum annuum) provides a pleasant fragrance with uplifting and positive influence.
- Frankincense (Boswellia carteri) may help with occasional feelings of stress and tenseness
It is very important to use only pure, genuine therapeutic grade essential oils from a trusted source for these purposes. Family and friends can also help by simply recognizing the huge emotional aspects of recovery that require time and patience to work through, and limiting their demands and expectations. It is important to simply be willing to listen and encourage the patient in rebuilding his or her confidence in handling their affairs. Things that do not help:
- hovering and worrying
- telling them what to do as though they were a child or incompetent
- scolding or nagging the patient about taking medications, eating habits, overdoing, etc.
- stepping in and taking over instead of letting the patient do things for themselves
- applying labels to the person’s behavior such as telling them they are “agitated”, “flipped their switch”, or need to avoid “triggers”
- questioning or challenging their decisions or actions
- trying to argue with them
- interrupting or not listening to them
- trying to push them into taking more drugs and/or having more medical evaluations to “fix” their behaviors
- undermining their decisions or actions by suggesting to others they are mentally unbalanced.
What you can do:
- above all, listen and let them finish when they are trying to tell you something
- maintain a positive, encouraging attitude
- believe in them and let them know it
- recognize their whole life has changed and that changes in their responses and how they spend their time are a normal part of that
- be patient
- if they do become upset, do not take it personally
- let them know you are their for them, no matter what
To learn more about different therapeutic grade essential oils and how they may help support a healthy lifestyle, please visit The Oil Well.
For more information on the leading essential oil companies, their history, testing, and quality standards, check out the 45 page Young Living/DoTerra report.
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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and this information is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.