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Preventing Secondary Heart Failure

Almost half of adult women show symptoms of secondary heart failure such as varicose veins, swollen ankles, painful joints, chronic fatigue, low metabolism.

By Kenneth McLeod, Ph.D.

Preventing Secondary Heart FailureWhat is Your Secondary Heart?
The human cardiovascular system should be viewed as a two-pump system where the cardiac muscle pushes blood out into the body, gravity pulls this blood down in the legs, and the soleus muscles returns this pooled blood, along with lymphatic fluid, back to the heart. The soleus muscles in the calf of the leg collect this blood and fluid until a reflex response activates the muscle and is able to produce sufficient pressure to pump these fluids all the way back up to the heart. The soleus muscles are so critical in returning blood to the heart that they have come to be called the “secondary hearts” of the body.

In the absence of adequate fluid return to the heart, the cardiac muscle cannot operate effectively. When the cardiac muscle cannot pump sufficient blood to provide nutrients and oxygen to all the tissues of the body an individual will commonly feel tired all of time, or experience low metabolism which usually results in weight gain.

What Causes Secondary Heart Failure?
Secondary Heart Failure is largely a result of our modern lifestyle.

When sitting or standing, the blood in our lower limbs must be returned to the heart against the force of gravity, requiring pressures well above the usual pressure in the veins. When our ancient ancestors wanted to rest, they squatted, which requires extensive soleus muscle activity; now we sit in chairs.

The average American adult sits for over 13 hours a day, and sitting does not stimulate any soleus muscle activity. As a result, a very large fraction of adults have poor soleus muscle (secondary heart) tone, and the older we get, the more likely it is that our soleus muscles are not working optimally.

Symptoms of Secondary Heart Failure
Secondary Heart insufficiency is remarkably common. We have observed that over 40% of women have symptoms associated with inadequate fluid return from the lower body to the heart.

The most obvious symptoms include swollen ankles, painful joints, varicose veins, night-time leg cramps, venous ulcers, poor wound healing. In addition, insufficient fluid return to the heart causes reduced cardiac output and blood pressure, resulting in conditions such as weight gain, bone loss, chronic fatigue, as well as memory and attention deficits.

Keep Your Secondary Heart Strong
Fortunately, it is possible to protect your soleus muscles from weakening, or rebuild them if they are failing you. Performing toe-stands throughout the day is very helpful, as is squatting, instead of sitting, and Tai Chi and Yoga can involve substantial use of the soleus muscles.

Of course, postural muscles such as the soleus muscles require several hours per day of exercise to stay in shape, or to rebuild, and as this can be difficult for many people to fit into their daily routine or too challenging for their physical ability.

To assist individuals in rebuilding their soleus muscles, various types of exercise equipment have been developed. The HeartPartner offered by Sonostics, for example, is a passive-exercise device that utilizes vibration technology to activate the reflex which stimulates the soleus muscle into action. It is easy and convenient to use at home or work while sitting in a easy chair, or at a desk or table, for just a few hours over the course of a day. It also allows the individual to keep their socks and shoes on during use.

Whichever approach you use, the important point is to keep your soleus muscles in shape. Your heart, as well as the rest of your body, is critically dependent on you having healthy secondary hearts.

After using HeartPartner for three weeks, my ankle swelling has reduced by over an inch. Typically, after church, I would need to go home and change my shoes because my feet hurt so badly. Now, I’m able to wear my shoes all afternoon without any pain. I wish I had the HeartPartner twelve years ago!” — AnnMarie W., Endicott, N.Y.

Dr. Kenneth J. McLeod, Ph.D., is President and Chief Executive Officer at Sonostics, developer of the HeartPartner. He also serves as Director of the Clinical Science and Engineering Research Center at Binghamton University in New York. Dr. McLeod received his Ph.D degrees in Bio-
medical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

To learn more about HeartPartner please visit www.sonostics.com or call us Toll Free at 1-855-696-9283.

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