Hardening of the arteries, a buildup of plaque (made up of calcium and fats) on the blood vessel walls, seems to be a result of the Western lifestyle. It is often associated with high fat diets, high cholesterol, and a variety of other risk factors. Many of these factors, like the stress that many of us experience every day, seem to be unavoidable. Often, a piece of the artery wall plaque breaks off, forms a clot, and this results in an artery being blocked.
As a result, our hospitals are full of patients undergoing surgery for cardiovascular procedures. The standard techniques are angioplasty and bypass surgery. Both of these are often a result of a cardiac emergency, from which many people die. Those who are lucky enough to survive, or who detect the growing blockages before it’s too late may need urgent surgical intervention to save their lives.
Angioplasty is used to clear blocked blood vessels (usually arteries). A balloon is inserted into the artery and then inflated to clear away fatty deposits, widen the artery, and improve blood flow. The second treatment for coronary artery obstructions is bypass surgery. A new vein taken from another part of the body, from an animal, or a synthetic, replaces the obstructed artery. Today, angioplasty and bypass surgery are routine, with about 800,000 such procedures done in the United States each year. But unfortunately these treatments are not a cure-all. With angioplasty, restricted blood flow recurs in 30 percent of patients within six months; 50 percent of patients will require a repeat procedure. Many of these patients eventually require bypass surgery, which is successful in only 50 to 65% of cases.
Clot-dissolving drugs used in the emergency treatment of heart attacks appear to be as effective as angioplasty and may prevent some of the heart attacks or strokes that occur within one month of angioplasty. The process of blood clotting in the body is not yet fully understood. There is a delicate balance between the clotting necessary to achieve healing and processes that will cause abnormal and unwanted clotting.
Some research to understand the signals involved in bleeding and blood vessel development is focused on making use of signal transduction technology, which has been shown to be the mechanism of the active ingredients of Sambiloto. This is the key to its protective mechanism. It has been demonstrated that extracts of Sambiloto can increase the time it takes for blood clots to form, which decreases the risk of subsequent closing of blood vessels seen after angioplasty procedures. This has been shown in studies with laboratory animals.
In 80 to 90% of patients with destroyed heart muscle resulting from an acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), clots are found in the heart shortly after the beginning of symptoms. When heart muscle is deprived of its blood supply, and therefore of oxygen, the tissue dies. Physicians believe that the best treatment is to limit the size of the myocardial infarction (the area of tissue damage) in order to preserve the pump function of the heart. Agents that dissolve the clots and increase blood flow through the blocked artery are constantly being sought. Sambiloto is being further researched to confirm its potential to be a part of the conventional medical treatment in such cases.
Researchers in China have demonstrated that Sambiloto extract given to laboratory dogs one hour after development of heart attack decreased the damage that occurred to the heart muscle. This damage occurs after the blood supply is restored to the muscle. This is due to a sudden influx of oxygen (which produces free radicals that damage tissue) and abnormally high amounts of calcium. The researchers also found that further clotting was reduced, damage to heart muscle was reduced, and the healing process was enhanced.