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Can Cayenne Pepper Help Prevent a Heart Attack?

By Glenda Taylor

A heart attack is a serious cardiac episode that requires prompt attention by medical professionals. Your doctor can perform an examination and tell you if you’re at an increased risk of suffering a heart attack. Cayenne pepper is an herbal remedy used to treat circulatory disorders and heart disease, but it cannot take the place of professional medical treatment. Call for medical help immediately if you think you’re having a heart attack, and consult your doctor for advice before using cayenne to reduce the risk of future heart attacks.

Heart Attack Risk

Your heart depends upon a healthy flow of blood through the coronary arteries. With age, poor diet and other medical conditions, the coronary arteries may narrow, restricting blood flow. During a heart attack, a blood clot or an arterial spasm blocks the flow of blood to the heart. Your risk of suffering a heart attack increases with age, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, stress and a sedentary lifestyle. A family history of heart disease may also increase your risk of having a heart attack. Cayenne may reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, which may, in turn, reduce the risk of some heart attacks.

Cayenne’s Potential Benefits

Cayenne contains capsaicin, which may reduce liver and serum cholesterol levels, according to the “Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine.” It may also reduce high blood pressure and plaque buildup in the arteries while increasing circulation, but clinical studies confirming these benefits are lacking. Do not self-treat any heart condition with cayenne.

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Method and Dosage

The “Gale Encyclopedia” recommends combining 0.25 tsp. of cayenne pepper with 1 cup of hot water to prepare an herbal tea for treating digestive disturbances, but there is no recommended dosage available for treating heart disease. Cayenne is available in the spice section of your local grocery or in capsule and tablet form in health food stores. Follow package dosage instructions or consult your doctor for specific dosing advice.

Considerations

Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and children should not use cayenne, unless under a doctor’s supervision. Side effects increase with higher-than-suggested dosages and include burning bowel movements, diarrhea, stomach cramping and vomiting.

Cayenne may interfere with some medications, including drugs used to treat asthma and blood thinners. Heart disease and heart attacks can be life threatening. Use cayenne only as part of a doctor-recommended method of treatment.

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