A video has gone viral on social media in which a speaker is heard addressing a crowd about the immediate response to be carried out during the event of a heart attack. Demonstrating the “heart safe position” to seat an individual who has just suffered the heart attack, the speaker claims, “There is something that is really small yet very priceless in all our homes- ginger. You ask the patient to chew it, make them chew it till they start watering through their eye. In 2-5 minutes their eyes will start watering, which is an indication that the blockage has been cleared. Sidharth Shukla, KK… you know that these people could not reach the hospital on time because they suffered a heart attack and it caused a problem. So you make them sit in a heart safe position and then you make them consume ginger. You can take him to the hospital after that but he would be safe by then. Because the body starts producing Nitric Oxide immediately and your arteries open up due to vasodilation. The blockage gives way and you will be safe.”
Newschecker has found this claim to be false.
Newschecker first ran a keyword search for “ginger heart attack blockages”, which led us to this report in a peer-reviewed journal. According to a study titled Ginger in the Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases, dated April 21, 2022, ginger consumption in the diet could improve cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure, improving lipid profile, preventing obesity, improving glycaemic control, and vascular health.
Similar articles/studies, seen here and here, state that adding ginger to one’s diet lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases. However, none of them state that consumption of ginger directly in the event of a heart attack would clear blockages.
We then got in touch with Dr Nishith Chandra, interventional cardiologist, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, New Delhi, who stated that the viral claim is medical misinformation. “The claim sets a very wrong precedent as people, instead of seeking immediate medical attention at the time of a heart attack, would try to take ginger and that would be very harmful for the patient. Heart attacks occur because of blockages and clotting in the arteries. Ginger plays no role in clearing that clot.”
Dr Nihar Mehta, interventional cardiologist at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai, too, rubbished the claim. “These myths definitely need to be destroyed because one needs to understand what a heart attack is and then take up treatment. A heart attack happens when a clot develops in your arteries and you have an underlying 20%-30% blockage, which is full of lipids, cholesterol and fats. All of a sudden, it ruptures or ulcerates and the whole artery clots up. So that clot is a physical obstruction. By adopting some posture, that clot will not go away. Ginger does have some cardio-protective properties in the long run, however, consuming a small amount of ginger is not going to make your blood thin, so as to reduce the blockage immediately,” Dr Mehta said, adding that even consuming aspirin, which is a good blood thinner, does not clear a blockage, but just buys you time. “After aspirin, you give some strong clot-busting medicines, which just clears a tiny quantity of the blockage. The only way to clear a blockage is by doing an angiography and putting in a stent. This is the standard care adopted throughout the world, so, rather than wasting time by adopting postures or consuming ginger in the event of a heart attack, which is wishful thinking, it is better to go to a hospital and get an ECG done,” the doctor said.
He further added that the most important thing to remember during a heart attack is that the clock is ticking and that the time is not to be wasted by following tips seen across these viral claims.
Viral claim, that suggests adopting a “heart safe” position and consuming ginger in the event of a heart attack to “open up the arteries”, is not factual.
Telephonic conversation with Dr Nishith Chandra, interventional cardiologist, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, New Delhi
Telephonic conversation with Dr Nihar Mehta, interventional cardiologist at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai
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