Heart, or cardiovascular, disease is responsible for nearly half of all deaths in the United States each year, killing nearly one million people each year, and afflicting over 60 million others. Although heart disease is more commonly thought of as a condition that primarily affects men, in actuality it strikes slightly more women each year than it does men (over 52 percent women compared to just under 48 percent men). Someone in the U.S. dies from a heart attack every minute, while three people will experience a heart attack during that same time span. Despite this grim toll, heart disease is one of the most easily preventable degenerative health conditions, although conventional medicine is largely a failure in this area.
The reason for this failure on the part of conventional medicine is two-fold: 1) an unhealthy emphasis on factors, such as cholesterol levels, which are far less important to overall heart health compared to far more serious causes, and 2) an unwillingness on the part of cardiologists and other conventional physicians and researchers to admit this. As a result, nearly $60 billion is spent in the United States each year to treat heart disease using conventional methods that are often ineffective and fraught with many severe side effects. By contrast, holistic physicians and other practitioners of natural healing methods, have a much higher overall success rate when it comes to treating and preventing heart disease. The methods they employ are not only more effective, they are also much safer and usually far less expensive.
Today, an abundance of scientific evidence exists that verifies what holistic health practitioners have known for many decades: Not only is heart disease imminently treatable and reversible when the proper treatment methods are employed, it is also something that is very easy to prevent from happening in the first place.
Types of Heart Disease
Various conditions fall under the category of heart disease. These include angina pectoris, arrhythmia, arteriosclerosis (also known as atherosclerosis), cardiac arrest, congestive heart disease (also known as cardiomyopathy), coronary heart disease, coronary stenosis, heart attack (myocardial infarction), high blood pressure (hypertension), and stroke.
Angina pectoris – This condition is characterized by feelings of discomfort, heaviness, and/or pressure in the chest and throat, as well as, in some instances, in the shoulder and along the length of the left arm. These sensations are caused by a lack of oxygen and blood to the heart muscle, usually due to lesions in the arteries or valves of the heart itself.
Arrhythmia – Arrhythmia is a condition characterized by irregular or abnormal heartbeat. Though in some instances it is not serious, it requires regular monitoring because in many cases it can result in more serious forms of heart disease is not properly treated.
Arteriosclerosis (Atherosclerosis) – Arteriosclerosis/atherosclerosis is characterized by a loss of elasticity and abnormal hardening and thickening of the arterial walls, which cause the arteries to narrow, making blood flow to the body’s various organs, including the brain and the heart, much more difficult. It frequently precedes and causes heart attack and stroke.
Cardiac arrest – Cardiac arrest is a condition in which the heart stops beating. Unless treated immediately, it can lead to death.
Congestive heart disease (cardiomyopathy) – This condition is characterized by congestion of blood within, and weakness of, the heart muscle. It is often accompanied by shortness of breath without physical exertion. Left untreated, in can result in complete failure of the heart muscle (congestive heart failure).
Coronary heart disease – Coronary heart disease refers to atherosclerosis of the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart’s muscles. It is one of the most common forms of heart disease in the U.S., and can frequently result in angina and heart attack.
Coronary stenosis – Coronary stenosis is a condition in which the heart’s pumping capacity becomes exceeded due to the arteries and/or valves of the heart muscle becoming constricted or narrowed, making normal blood flow difficult, and resulting in a diminished supply of oxygen and nutrients to the heart and throughout the body.
Heart attack (myocardial infarction) – Heart attacks strikes 1.5 million Americans each year, killing 500,000 people. They occur as a result of diminished blood and oxygen to the heart. As a result, parts of the heart literally die. In severe cases, the end result is cardiac arrest and death. Although up to 50 percent off all cases of heart attack occur without warning or noticeable symptoms that precede it, in most cases the conditions leading to heart attack are set in motion years earlier.
High blood pressure (hypertension) – High blood pressure is one of the most common health conditions in the United States. People affected by this condition have higher than normal blood pressure levels as their hearts pump blood throughout all the body’s arteries. This greater than normal force can damage the walls of the arteries, which in turn can result in dangerous deposits of harmful (LDL) cholesterol and various toxic substances sticking to them. If this process is left unchecked, the end result can be heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions.
Stroke – Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Each year, half a million Americans are attacked by stroke, which leaves two-thirds of them incapacitated to some degree, suffering from such symptoms as diminished, and in some cases, complete loss of eyesight, physical movement, and/or speech. Stroke occurs due to diminished blood flow to the brain, blood clots, and/or internal hemorrhaging and ruptured blood vessels, all of which can lead to a lack of oxygen to the brain, causing areas of the brain to wither and diet. To a lesser extent, stroke can also be due to birth defects, genetic disorders, and rare forms of blood disease.
Symptoms of heart disease can often remain hidden and unnoticed until the later stages of cardiovascular degeneration. In as many as half of all cases of fatal heart attack, no symptoms are evident prior to death. Therefore, it is important that you be screened for symptoms early and on an ongoing basis, to minimize your risk.
Telltale signs that you may be suffering from cardiovascular problems include dizziness, fainting, and leg pain that occur while walking but which fade following rest, all of which can be signs of arteriosclerosis (atherosclerosis). Other signals are mild to severe chest pain, tightness in the chest, numbness in the arm, and pain in the chest or throat that worsens following physical exertion and/or after eating, all of which are associated with angina pectoris. Shortness of breath can be related to congestive heart failure or angina pectoris.
Symptoms of heart attack include crushing chest pain; pain in the left arm, back, jaw, neck, and/or shoulders; sudden and profuse sweating; sudden drop in blood pressure; nausea; and vomiting.
Caution: If you experience any of the above symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention, even if the symptoms fade and are not of long duration.
There are numerous causes of heart disease. These include poor diet, nutritional deficiencies, lack of exercise, smoking, genetic predisposition, chronic infection, chronic inflammation, anxiety, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, insulin resistance, obesity, stress, gum (periodontal) disease, mercury and other environmental toxins, poverty, and oxidized cholesterol. But the most important and usually undiagnosed cause of most types of heart disease is vulnerable plaque.
Vulnerable Plaque: The role that vulnerable plaque plays in heart disease first came to light with the publication of a monograph published by the American Heart Association in 1998, which was edited by its president, Valentin Fuster, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Cardiovascular Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York City. According to the research data cited in the monograph, vulnerable plaque is the primary cause of 85 percent of all heart attacks and stroke. Despite this finding, most conventional cardiologists and other conventional physicians continue to ignore vulnerable plaque, choosing to focus instead on secondary and far less serious causes of cardiovascular illness. It is primarily this reason that conventional medicine continues to have such a poor record in treating and preventing heart disease.
Unlike the harder, crystalline plaque that is associated with arteriosclerosis, vulnerable plaque is a soft mixture of blood cells, cholesterol, and proteins that accumulates inside the walls of arteries, and which is encapsulated by a thin fiber-like coating. What makes vulnerable plaque so dangerous is the fact that it contains powerful clotting agents, or coagulants that, if they are released into the blood stream, can cause large and potentially fatal blood clots to form. Compounding this problem is the fact that the body responds to vulnerable plaque as if it were an infection. Consequently, the immune system attacks it by unleashing immune blood cells and enzymes that can cause the fibrous cap containing vulnerable plaque to rupture quite easily, spilling the coagulants out into the blood stream to form clots. Ironically, vulnerable plaque, as well as all other forms of plaque that can build up inside the arteries, is actually formed by the body to repair damage caused by tears and lesions to the arteries that can result from such factors as high blood pressure, stress, and smoking. As these lesions and tears occur, the body releases the substances that form vulnerable plaque to form over and protect them.
Alternative physicians who treat heart disease recognize that, for the most part, vulnerable plaque makes the drugs and surgical procedures that are commonly employed for heart disease both unnecessary and ill-advised because of their failure to address the underlying cause of most incidents of cardiovascular disease. Moreover, various conventional diagnostic techniques, such as angiograms, are also usually useless when if comes to detecting vulnerable plaque. In their place, alternative physicians recommend ultra-high-speed Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), which is far better able to detect vulnerable plaque, as well as other alternative diagnostic methods, such as darkfield microscopy, LINK a technique in which a live blood sample is viewed through a special microscope as it is illuminated with specially angled halogen light.
Although the pharmaceutical industry is currently exploring the possibility of developing drugs that target vulnerable plaque, for now they primarily rely on cholesterol lowering drugs such as statins (Lipitor, etc) and blood thinner drugs such as Warfarin (Coumadin), both of which can cause serious side effects and even death. Fortunately, there is no need to wait for further drug developments, since for over 50 years alternative physicians have employed nutritional supplements that directly address vulnerable plaque by providing the body with what it needs to restore the overall health of the entire cardiovascular system.
Infections: Chronic infection is another often ignored cause of heart disease. The invasion of bacterial and viral infections in the body can trigger a corresponding buildup of vulnerable plaque as the body tries to halt the spread of infection. According to researchers, the primary infectious agents associated with heart disease are Chlamydia (especially Chlamydia pneumoniae, which 95 percent of all people come in contact with at some point in their lives), cytomegalovirus (CMV), the herpes family of viruses, and Helibactor pylori, which is also associated with most cases of stomach ulcer.
The link between infection and heart disease has been established by various scientific reports, including one published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which indicated that up to 55 percent of potential heart attacks are prevented when patients receive antibiotic treatment. Other research has found that 70 percent of heart attack patients test positive for Chlamydia pneumoniae, while CMV has been found in the heart muscle of 85 percent of all heart patients.
Chronic Inflammation: Recent research has shown that chronic, low-grade inflammation is another serious cause of heart disease, increasing the risk of heart attack by 300 to 800 percent, and the risk of stroke by 200 percent. Your doctor can determine if you suffer from low-grade inflammation through the use of an inexpensive blood test that measures levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation in the body. Though CRP is always present in the body, its level rises in direct proportion to elevated inflammation levels. Normal CRP levels are less than 36 mg/dL. Levels higher than this are a strong indicator that chronic inflammation exists.
Oxidized Cholesterol: For years, conventional physicians have warned about the dangers of high cholesterol levels in relation to heart disease, especially high levels LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, compared to HDL, or “good” cholesterol. However, it’s not the amount of cholesterol you have—good or bad—that determines your risk of heart disease, but whether or not cholesterol becomes oxidized. Otherwise, cholesterol plays a valuable role in your overall health, not only maintaining the health of your cells, but also helping to maintain proper immune function, kidney function, and the manufacture and regulation of your body’s supply of natural sex and steroidal hormones.
Cholesterol, especially in the form of LDL, only becomes a health threat when it combines with oxygen, a process known as oxidation. Oxidation of cholesterol can occur as a result of free radical damage, and exposure to chlorine and/or fluoride (both of which are often contained in public drinking water) and an amino acid known as homocysteine. Other triggers of cholesterol oxidation include eating commercially processed foods, excessive consumption of red meat and milk and dairy products, exposure to environmental toxins and pesticides, infection, stress, and physical trauma. When oxidation of cholesterol occurs, it often results in the formation of the hard plaque associated with arteriosclerosis, potentially setting the stage for heart attacks and/or strokes to occur, as well as often elevating blood pressure levels.
Conventional physicians ignore the question of oxidized cholesterol, focusing instead simply—and all too often dangerously—on lowering overall cholesterol levels, especially LDL cholesterol. This improper emphasis has resulted in the explosive growth of a new class of cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins in the marketplace. Not only do statins do nothing to protect against oxidation of cholesterol, they can cause a variety of serious side effects, including inflammation of the liver. In addition, their potential to cause harm dramatically increases when they are used in combination with other pharmaceutical drugs.
Genetic Predisposition: Hereditary factors can genetically predispose a person to develop heart disease, although such a predisposition does not make heart disease a certainty. In fact, knowing if you have a genetic predisposition for heart disease, or any other illness, can actually improve your ability to prevent it by taking the proper preventive measures discussed below.
The biggest danger posed by genetic predisposition in relation to heart disease has to do with rare, but serious, hereditary factors related to abnormal metabolism of cholesterol. Men born with such a predisposition can suffer heart attacks as early as in their twenties. A genetic predisposition to improperly metabolize the amino acids cysteine and methionine can also increase heart disease risk, although not as significantly. Such a condition is known as hyperhomocysteinemia. Elevated levels of fibrinogen, another risk factor for heart disease, can also be influenced by a person’s genes.
High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure can dramatically increase the risk of heart attack and other types of heart disease because of how elevated blood pressure levels can damage the walls of the arteries. Often high blood pressure can be present without any symptoms, making it advisable to have regular blood pressure readings (at least once a year).
Pharmaceutical Drugs: A variety of pharmaceutical drugs can increase your risk of heart disease, including commonly prescribed heart medications, such as statins used to lower cholestrol, and blood thinners such as Coumadin. Other drugs that have been shown to increase heart disease risk include COX-2 inhibitors (Bextra, Celebrex, Vioxx), Emcyt, Ethmozine, Lupron Depot Injections, Novantrone Injections, Rythmol, Tambocor, Tonocard, and Zoladex.
Poor Diet: Diets high in commercially processed foods, sugars, simple carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats have long been implicated as a serious risk factor for heart disease. Such diets not only lack vital nutrients necessary for overall cardiovascular health, they are also low in fiber and significantly increase the risk of other co-factors in heart disease, such as insulin imbalance, immune deficiencies, chronic inflammation, and chronic infection.
Nutritional Deficiencies: Lack of essential heart nutrients such as vitamins C and E, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), magnesium, selenium, essential fatty acids, and amino acids such as lysine, are well known to contribute to heart disease.
Lack of Exercise: Neglecting to exercise regularly can lead a host of health problems, including heart disease. Proper exercise not only strengthens the heart muscle, it also improves your body’s ability to digest and assimilate vital nutrients from the foods you eat, and optimizes their delivery, as well as the delivery of oxygen, to the cells, via the blood stream.
Diabetes: Diabetes, especially adult onset, or Type II, diabetes can also contribute to heart disease because of how it causes the walls of the arteries to prematurely age and degenerate. This, in turn, can cause impaired circulation and increased levels of free radicals, which can cause cholesterol to become oxidized. Diabetes Type II can also result in elevated levels of biochemical stress and increased production of dangerous corticosteroids, a class of hormones that can keep the body in a perpetual state of stress.
Insulin resistance, which can trigger diabetes Type II, can also cause heart disease because of how the chemical imbalances associated with it can negatively affect the arterial walls and create blockages. In addition, when insulin levels rise in the body due to insulin resistance and/or diabetes Type II, they cause biochemicals such as fibrinogen and triglycerides to increase as well, in addition to lowering HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels, all of which can further increase the risk of heart disease.
Gum Disease: Gum, or periodontal, disease has been shown by research to increase the risk of heart disease, especially stroke, because of how bacteria associated with poor gum health can enter the bloodstream, causing damage to the arteries and other blood vessels, as well as increasing the risk of unhealthy blood clots.
Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid function, can contribute to heart disease because of the various imbalances that are created in the body when thyroid function is inadequate. Low thyroid function can significantly impair your body’s overall metabolism, as well as adversely affect your heart rate and blood pressure level, both of which can result in more serious cardiovascular conditions if left untreated.
Smoking: Smoking and regular exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke are both significant risk factors for heart disease. Each year, more than 190,000 Americans die of heart disease as a direct result of smoking, and between 37,000 and 40,000 more die due to exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke. In addition, people who are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke have a more than 90 per cent greater risk of dying due to heart attacks compared to non-smokers who are not exposed to cigarette smoke. Even occasional exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke can be dangerous because according to research, the risk of heart disease can increase by as much as 58 per cent when people are in the presence of others smoking cigarettes.
The more than 4,000 chemical toxins contained in cigarette smoke cause heart disease by damaging the walls and inner linings of the arteries, and increasing blood stickiness and the likelihood of vulnerable plaque, thereby increasing the risk of unhealthy blood clots and heart attacks. Nicotine also constricts the arterial walls, increasing the risk of high blood pressure. Moreover, due to the numerous toxins cigarettes and other tobacco products contain, smoking and second-hand exposure to cigarettes can compromise immune function, making it easier for infectious agents to take hold that can also trigger heart disease.
Mercury and Other Environmental Toxins: Mercury, as well as other heavy metals and environmental toxins, can significantly increase the risk of heart disease in a variety of ways. Among them are unhealthy changes in heart rate due to how such toxins interference with enzymes necessary for proper contraction of the heart muscle, interference with the body’s ability to assimilate and make use of nutrients vital to the health and elasticity of arterial smooth muscle, and interference with the body’s ability to process and remove cholesterol deposits via the liver causing elevation and oxidation of overall cholesterol levels. In addition, research has shown that that presence of heavy metals in the body makes it much easier for infectious agents to maintain themselves within the body, further increasing the likelihood of heart disease developing.
Mercury toxicity is a widespread problem in the United States due to its presence in dental amalgam fillings, many vaccines, in the environment and in certain fish. Many other environmental toxins are also widespread across our nation’s air, water, and soil. Because environmental toxicity is so common, alternative health practitioners routinely screen for such toxins and make detoxification a part of their overall treatment approach for treating and preventing heart disease.
Poverty: Recent research indicates that people who are impoverished are more at risk for heart attacks than people who are well-to-do, even when all other risk factors for heart disease are taken into account. This is especially true of people who live in neighborhoods characterized by poverty, since they are more apt to have an increased presence of environmental toxins, as well as greater levels of garbage and debris. In addition, living in such neighborhoods can increase stress levels, which can also trigger heart disease.
Stress: Chronic, unresolved stress is a well-known risk factor for health disease. During times of stress, blood pressure levels rise and, if left untreated, can cause damage to the blood vessels that supply the heart with vital nutrients and oxygen. In addition, during times of stress, damaging hormones known as corticosteroids are released into the blood stream, also causing problems that can lead to heart disease.
Diagnostic Methods to Screen for Heart Disease
Conventional physicians often rely on blood tests that measure cholesterol (HDL, LDL, and total cholesterol) and triglyceride levels, as well as blood pressure readings, to monitor a person’s risk of developing heart disease. What follows are the values for normal readings for all four of these tests:
Total Cholesterol – 165-200 mg/dL
LDL Cholesterol – below 130 mg/dL
HDL cholesterol – less than 150 mg/dL
Triglycerides – less than 150 mg/dL
Other commonly used conventional diagnostic tests include angiogram, echocardiogram ultrasound, electrocardiogram (EKG), ankle/brachial index blood circulation (ABI), arterial stiffness index (ASI), carotid artery ultrasound, and abdominal aortic aneurysm test.
An angiogram helps to measure the overall shape and size of the arteries and veins, and is useful for detecting hardening of the arteries.
An echocardiogram is an ultrasound procedure performed to detect conditions such as enlargement of the heart and heart valve abnormalities. In addition, an echocardiogram can potentially detect blood clots, tumours, stenosis, and fluid build up around the heart.
The electrocardiogram, or EKG, provides a picture of the electrical activity responsible for the heart’s cycle of contraction and relaxation. A single EKG “strip” shows the electrical changes (up and down) over time (left to right). Usually, several leads or electrodes are placed on the body so that the heart can be “viewed” from several angles. By evaluating the tracings of the heart’s electrical activity, doctors can see whether the heartbeat is irregular (if any arrhythmia is present), find out whether the heart is enlarged and detect the telltale signs of damage from an old heart attack.
The ankle/brachial index blood circulation (ABI) test uses pressure cuffs and dopplers to measure extremities for peripheral arterial disease, and is useful in detecting arteriosclerosis.
The arterial stiffness index (ASI) test measures the degree of stiffness, or hardening of the brachial artery, which has been demonstrated in studies to correlate with the coronary arteries as to the extent of atherosclerotic lesions and the overall hardening of all of the body’s arteries.
The carotid artery test uses ultrasound to look inside the carotid arteries in the neck, which supplies blood and oxygen to the brain. If there is a build-up of fatty plaque or any clot formation, this could cause a stroke.
The abdominal aortic aneurysm test (AAA) uses ultrasound to look for the presence of an aneurysm or enlargement in the lining of the blood vessel. Since the vast majority of people with an abdominal aortic aneurysm have no symptoms, being aware of its existence has can save lives.
Although all of the above tests can be useful in helping to determine overall cardiovascular health, they are of little use in detecting some of the more primary causes of heart disease, such as chronic low-grade inflammation, chronic infections, and, most especially, vulnerable plaque. For this reason, alternative health practitioners employ a variety of other tests, as well. These include ultra-high-speed Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), darkfield microscopy, electrodermal screening, and blood tests that measure C-reactive protein (a marker for chronic inflammation), homocysteine (which can increase plaque formation within the arteries), lipoprotein(a) (an indicator of LDL cholesterol), fibrinogen (high levels of which can indicate a risk of both stroke and coronary artery disease), apoliprotein A-1 and apoliprotein B (both are predictors of a person’s overall risk of heart disease), glucose and insulin (when elevated, can signify a risk of heart disease due to diabetes and/or insulin resistance), and iron levels (excessive iron in the body results in increased free radical production and oxidative damage, including to cholesterol).
Ultra-High-Speed MRI is one of the most effective diagnostic tools for detecting vulnerable plaque. In addition to providing high quality images of the interior of the arteries and other blood vessels, unlike older magnetic resonance imaging devices, ultra-high-speed MRI allows for shortened exam times in a more open environment for individuals who may otherwise experience claustrophobia.
Darkfield Microscopy involves the use of a Darkfield microscrope. Unlike traditional microscopes, a Darkfield microscope is specially adapted to be able to examine live blood cells that are then magnified onto a video screen. This allows physicians trained in this diagnostic technique to detect evidence of illness via distortions in the walls of the blood cells, and to spot vulnerable plaque, as well as harmful bacteria, viruses, and other potentially harmful microorganisms in the bloodstream, where they do not belong.
Electrodermal Screening (EDS) is a non-invasive diagnostic technique that measures the electrical output of specific points on the hands, face, or feet that correlate to acupuncture meridian points at the beginning or end of energy meridians. The electrical signals given off at these points provides information about the health status of the body’s organs and organ systems, and can also be used to detect the presence of toxins, energy imbalances, and harmful microorganisms, all of which can contribute to the onset of heart disease. In the hands of a highly skilled EDS practitioner, EDS can often detect cardiovascular abnormalities, even when other sophisticated testing methods fail to do so because of the fact that both health and disease are first and foremost the results of balanced or imbalanced energy.
What follow are the values for normal readings for the blood tests markers mentioned above:
C-reactive protein (CRP) – less than 32 mg/dL
Homocysteine – less than 10 micro mol/L
Lipoprotein(a) – less than 32 mg/dL
Fibrinogen – less than 300 mg/dL
Apoliproprotein A-1 – 125-215 mg/dL
Apoliproprotein B – 55-125 mg/dL
Glucose – 0 80-110 mg/dL
Insulin – 4-15 micro mol/L (fasting)
Iron – less than 150 mg/dL.
Risks of Conventional Treatments for Heart Disease
In addition to failing to address the primary factors that cause heart disease, such as vulnerable plaque, chronic inflammation, chronic infection, and oxidized cholesterol, conventional treatments for heart disease can cause very serious side effects, including death. Such treatments include aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), blood thinning medications, cholesterol-lowering drugs, angioplasty and bypass surgery, and heart catherization.
Aspirin and Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Aspirin and other NSAIDs are commonly prescribed to protect against heart attack and stroke. However, even low dosages of aspirin taking daily—something that is often recommended by conventional physicians to prevent heart attack—can have serious consequences, as an estimated 2,000 or more people die each year in the U.S. due to stomach bleeding caused by regular aspirin intake. Overall, NSAIDs kill over 20,000 Americans each year due to gastrointestinal bleeding, and cause 125,000 hospitalizations. Like all other pharmaceutical drugs, they can also cause severe kidney and/or liver damage. They can also increase the risk of stomach ulcers, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
Blood Thinning Medications: Blood thinning, or anticoagulant, medications are prescribed to help reduce the formation of unhealthy blood clots, counteract blockages in the arteries and veins, and to prevent heart disease. One of the most commonly prescribed blood thinners in warfarin, which is marketed under the brand name Coumadin. In addition to their expensive cost, such medications can cause a wide range of side effects. These include severe allergic reactions, such as difficulty breathing, involuntary closing of the throat, hives, and swollen lips, tongue and/or face; black, bloody, or tarry stools; blood in the urine or vomit; coughing up blood; bleeding gums; mouth sores; decreased urine production; yellowing of the eyes and/or skin; bleeding or bruising of the skin; discoloration of the toes or fingers; unusually heavy menstruation; excessive gas and/or bloating; diarrhea; nausea; vomiting; hair loss; decreased appetite; and unhealthy weight loss.
Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs: This class of drugs is widely prescribed by conventional physicians to prevent and treat heart disease, especially a newer class of cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins, such as Lipitor and Crestor. As we discussed above, lowering cholesterol levels is nowhere as important as preventing and reversing oxidation of cholesterol, which is something these drugs do not do. Not only do statins and other cholesterol-lowering drugs fail to address one of the most significant risk factors for heart disease, they can in fact dramatically increase (by as much as 46 percent) the likelihood of heart attack or stroke, as well as increase levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. They also reduce the body’s ability to absorb and make use of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a vital heart nutrient. Other side effects of these drugs include amnesia, severe fatigue, kidney and/or liver damage, muscle pain, neuromuscular degeneration, and symptoms related to Lou Gehrig’s disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.
Angioplasty and Bypass Surgery: Two of the most common surgical procedures for treating heart disease are balloon angioplasty, which accounts for 250,000 operations in the U.S. each year, and coronary bypass surgery, which accounts for another 300,000 annual operations. Despite the prevalence of both procedures, many researchers, such as Nortin Hadler, M.D., Professor of Medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, consider angioplasties to be an unjustifiable operation in every instance, and that only between three and five per cent of all coronary bypass surgeries are justifiable. Such a view has even been made by members of the American Heart Association as far back as the early 1980s.
Though heart disease patients are usually told that angioplasty and bypass surgery can extend their lives, the facts speak otherwise, as was shown in 1997 report by the New England Journal of Medicine, which revealed that the vast majority of angioplasty and bypass surgeries provide no significant degree of life extension, despite their high price tags. In addition, more recent scientific evidence shows that nearly half of all patients who undergo bypass surgeries exhibit notable diminished cognitive and mental function within five years after the operations are performed, due to brain damage caused by the procedures. Moreover, bypass surgery that is performed shortly after heart attack or angina has been shown to also increase the risk of stroke within months after the surgery is performed.
Heart Catheterization: Research conducted in 1996 showed that “right heart catheterization,” a conventional diagnostic procedure, can greatly increase the risk of death. The procedure is performed by inserting a catheter tube down through the neck in order to measure blood pressure levels inside of the heart. Though it has never undergone adequate trials to demonstrate its safety and effectiveness, each year over half a million Americans undergo heart catheterization. Moreover, the use of heart catherization has been shown to result in a significant increase in angioplasty and bypass surgery, despite the fact that research shows that when catheterization is followed by either of these procedures, the risk of death among heart attack survivors increases by 36 per cent.
Diet, along with proper nutritional supplementation, regular exercise, and conscious healthy lifestyle choices, including low stress and stress management, no smoking of any kind and little to moderate amounts of alcohol, are important self-care choices you can make to ensure a healthy heart. Unfortunately, poor diet is one of the most common health problems in the United States. To protect yourself against heart disease, you need to eliminate your intake of all unhealthy fats, especially trans-fatty acids and hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats and oils. This means not eating foods that contain margarine, vegetable shortening, and lard, as well as all fried and commercially processed foods, which are typically high in unhealthy fat content. Avoid all foods that are irradiated and/or that contain additives and preservatives, as well as foods grown with the use of pesticides, herbicides, steroids, and antibiotics, and all foods that contain powdered eggs or powdered milk. Eliminate all refined sugars and simple carbohydrates, which not only reduce immune function, and therefore your body’s ability to fight off infections linked to heart disease, but can also dramatically increase levels of C-reactive protein, homocysteine, blood glucose, insulin, and triglycerides, all of which are markers for heart disease. In addition, eliminate all refined salt which will dramatically reduce your overall sodium intake; instead use Himalayan mountain, Krystal sea salt or other unrefined salt, and minimize your intake of red meat, milk, and dairy products, as well as caffeine (no more than two cups of coffee per day). Limit your alcohol intake to no more than one glass of red wine per day, preferably with a meal.
Emphasize a diet rich in organic whole foods, especially plenty of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables, oats, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and organic, free-range poultry and wild-caught, cold water fish, such as halibut, mackerel, orange roughy, and salmon (avoid farm raised salmon). Beans and legumes are also advisable due to their high fiber content. Also be sure to use healthy oils such as extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, and fish oils for the essential fatty acids they contain. Choosing organic, rather than conventionally produced foods gives you a definite advantage.
Throughout the day, drink plenty of pure, filtered water, and avoid drinking—as well as bathing, and showering in—unfiltered tap water, because tap water contains heavy metals and pesticide residues that can contribute to and worsen heart disease.
Research has shown that one of the best dietary approaches to a healthy heart is the Mediterranean diet, which is high in plant foods eaten with garlic, onions, extra virgin olive oil, and moderate amounts of whole grains, fish, and poultry, along with an occasional glass of red wine at meal time. The near-vegetarian “reversal diet” developed by noted health author and researcher Dean Ornish, M.D., has also been clinically proven to help improve overall heart health. It emphasizes meals composed primarily of fresh vegetables and whole grains, and eliminates nearly all cholesterol-containing foods, animal fats, and oils. Dr. Ornish recommends that, for best results, his patients also commit to an exercise program and stress reduction techniques, such as meditation.
- Do not consume any artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda, NutraSweet or Aspartame
- Do not consume high fructose corn syrup or mono-sodium glutamate.
- Do not drink any carbonated beverages.
- Avoid all fast food restaurants.
- Avoid all canned food.
- Eliminate conventional dairy products. The best dairy products are raw, unpasteurised and homogenised dairy from grass fed cows. If this is unavailable, then buy organic dairy.
- Avoid conventional beef. The best beef is organic grass fed beef. www.grasslandbeef.com The second best is organic meat; this includes beef, veal, lamb, chicken and turkey.
- Take Vitamin D3 50,000-100,000 International Units a day / for a period of up to 4 weeks. Vitamin D has been shown to be a key factor in maintaining health cholesterol levels in the blood as high cholesterol can be the result of inadequate exposure to the sun.
- Beta Carotene – Research done at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland found it could lower heart disease by up to 50 per cent.
- Niacin – Vitamin B3 – known to lower cholesterol levels
- Vitamin B6 – helpful in preventing strokes and heart attacks, prevents oxidization of cholesterol
- VitaminB12 – associated with lowering homocysteine (a non-protein amino acid) levels. Homocysteine is one of the major contributing factors in heart disease.
- Folic Acid – essential for proper metabolism of homocysteine
- Vitamin C – prevents formation of oxysterols
- Coenzyme 10 – strengthens heart muscles
- Proanthocyanidin (PCA) – antioxidant derived from pine bark (or grape seeds) which enhances heart health
- Wholefood supplements are the best way of ensuring your nutritional needs are met.
- Omega 3s:
- Intravenous Chelation
- Calcium and Magnesium
- Vitamin E (Unique E) www.acgrace.com
- Able Heal
- Deer Antler Velvet
The importance of specific nutrients to overall heart health has been clearly established scientifically for at least fifty years, due to the work of such pioneering researchers as two-time Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling, Ph.D., whose work showed that heart disease is primarily due to nutritional deficiencies. Dr. Pauling maintained that heart disease was one of the most preventable of all diseases, despite the enormous personal and financial toll is takes each year. His own personal nutritional heart disease protective remedy was as follows: 6 to 18 mg of vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid, divided into three daily dosages and taken just before or with meals, along with 3 to 6 grams of the amino acid lysine, taken once per day. To this remedy, Matthias Rath, MD, one of Dr. Pauling’s associates, suggests adding the amino acid proline once per day at a dose of between 0.5 to 2 grams.
Other important nutrients for preventing and helping to reverse heart disease include:
beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, which has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as 50 percent (for best results, supplement with a mixed carotenoid formula for more comprehensive antioxidant protection);
vitamin B3 (niacin), which lowers cholesterol, reduces overall heart disease risk, and helps to increase the longevity of people who have already suffered a heart attack;
vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), which helps to neutralize homocysteine and inhibit platelet stickiness, thus protecting against arteriosclerosis;
vitamin B12, which also helps to protect against homocysteine;
vitamin C, which protects against cholesterol oxidation, infection, and inflammation, all major risk factors for heart disease, and can also help to dissolve unhealthy blood clots;
vitamin E, which can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and also protects against abnormal blood clotting and cholesterol oxidation, as well as helping to repair the cellular lining of blood vessels and to inhibit platelet stickiness (Caution: High dosages of vitamin E are not recommended for people with high blood pressure, rheumatic heart disease, or ischemic heart disease except under close medical supervision);
folic acid, which is vital for reducing and properly metabolizing homocysteine;
coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), an important nutrient for maintaining heart strength, providing energy for the overall cardiovascular system, and for inhibiting oxidation of cholesterol due to its potent antioxidant properties;
proanthocyanidan (PCA), which is contained in pycnogenol and grape seed extract, and which helps to prevent cholesterol oxidation while protecting the inner walls of the arteries and inhibiting platelet stickiness and abnormal blood clotting;
calcium, which helps to reduce platelet stickiness and reduce unhealthy cholesterol levels; chromium, which helps to reduce triglyceride and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, while increasing HDL (“good) cholesterol;
magnesium (for best results, use in the form of magnesium malate, glycinate, taurate, or aspartate), which helps to keep arteries smooth and properly dilated, improve blood flow and the ability of the heart to pump blood, protect against arrhythmia, inhibit arterial calcification, inhibit platelet stickiness, and maintain healthy overall cholesterol levels;
potassium, which protects against high blood pressure much more safely and effectively than blood pressure medications;
selenium, another potent antioxidant that helps to reduce platelet stickiness.
In addition to lysine and proline, certain other amino acids can also be helpful for protecting against heart disease. This is especially true of L-arginine and L-carnitine. L-arginine helps to protect against high blood pressure, and has been scientifically shown to improve overall heart function in patients with congestive heart disease. If administered immediately after a heart attack, it can also help repair damaged heart muscle. In addition, L-arginine helps the body to produce nitric acid, which helps to maintain the smoothness and integrity of the blood vessels.
Besides helping to lower triglyceride levels, L-carnitine also enhances the heart’s ability to properly contract and pump blood, as well as significantly reducing the risk of angina and arrhythmia, and improve recovery from heart attack.
Other useful nutrients include fish and omega-3 oils, which protect against chronic inflammation, act as natural blood thinners, and help to reduce harmful cholesterol and triglyceride levels; gamma linoleic acid, which also helps to protect against chronic inflammation and elevated C-reactive protein levels; policosanol, which reduces LDL cholesterol and lipoprotein(a) and protects and improves recovery from angina; and SAMe (S-Adenosylmethionine) and trimethylglycine (TMG), both of which are very effective in reducing homecysteine.
Prescription and non-prescription medication:
What non-prescription and prescription drugs are you taking? Your non-prescription and prescription are partially the reason that you have this illness or disease – you need to get off these medications but do so only under the guidance of a licensed health care practitioner.
Learning how to reduce and properly manage stress is essential for helping to protect against heart disease, especially for anyone who is suffering from high blood pressure. Research conducted by Dr. Dean Ornish and others has found that stress reduction not only helps prevent heart disease, but can also help to reverse it, especially when used in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular program of exercise.
Stress reduction techniques are also very helpful for dealing with emotions such as anger, depression, and hopelessness. Such emotions, if not properly expressed and dealt with, can significantly increase the risk of heart disease if they become chronic. Research has shown, for example, that people who are habitually angry and prone to lose their temper have nearly twice as high a risk of developing heart disease, compared to people who don’t have anger issues. In addition, homocysteine levels are often twice as high in people who are habitually angry, compared to normal people. Similar increases in heart disease risk have also been found in people who are habitually depressed and/or beset with feelings of hopelessness, especially men and the elderly.
Holistic health practitioners help their patients accomplish stress reduction through the use of various mind/body medicine techniques, such as biofeedback, hypnotherapy, and relaxation exercises. Meditation is another form of stress management that can be highly effective in reducing high blood pressure levels, thereby protecting overall cardiovascular health. So much so, in fact, that since 1984 it has been recommended by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over conventional blood pressure medications for cases of mild high blood pressure. There are many ways to meditate. One of the easiest is simply to sit comfortably in a chair with your eyes closed as you focus on your breathing. Do this for five to ten minutes twice a day and gradually extend each session to 20 or 30 minutes. To enhance your efforts, concentrate on mentally repeating a peaceful phrase each time you inhale and exhale, allowing all other thoughts to arise and pass without becoming involved in them. At first, this may seem difficult, but with committed practice you will eventually find yourself able to do so while experiencing greater degrees of calm and peace.
We know that when the body is out of balance, energy doesn’t flow, leading blockages and eventually dis-ease. Here are some things you can do to combat stress and restore balance:
- Go to a Dr Morter BEST (Bio-Energetic Synchronisation Technique) Practitioner.
- Sign up for Energetic Re-Balancing: 2 practitioners to consider are:
- Consider using Mary Millers Iching System Products – ichingsystemsinstruments.com
- Reiki healing is very powerful in releasing stress and emotional baggage. Find a practitioner here.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has had remarkable results in dissolving stress. Find a local practitioner here (link) or go to www.thetappingsolution.comorwww.tftrx.com
- Try Hypnotherapy to relax the mind. Find a practitioner here.
Ayurveda and Yoga in Cardio-Vascular Diseases: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15834238
Heart failure and natural treatment: www.raysahelian.com/heartfailure.html
Natural Supplements for Heart Disease: findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0NAH/is_2_38/ai_n24220167/
Alternative therapies for stroke: www.everydayhealth.com/stroke/alternative-therapies-for-stroke-treatment.aspx
Ayurvedic Treatment of Heart Disease: www.youtube.com/watch?v=WInJsNQPmuI
Eating healthily to reverse heart disease: www.youtube.com/watch?v=klYB_sXe_a4
Gentle yoga for heart disease: vimeo.com/34820061
Maintaining heart health with herbs and supplements: www.newslook.com/videos/345337-how-to-maintain-heart-health-with-herbs-and-supplements
Reverse heart disease exercise programme: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBbxdJ7VXTA
Dangers of red meat: www.examiner.com/video/study-red-meat-increases-risk-of-premature-death
Spicy foods prevent heart disease: naturalsociety.com/spicy-foods-prevent-number-one-cause-of-death-heart-disease/
Meditation lowers heart disease in teens: www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/07/meditation-lowers-heart-disease-risk-teens-study_n_1578452.html
Scientists explain effects of Chinese Medicine on Heart Health: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090818182055.htm
Benefits of Omega 3s in cardiovascular disease: circ.ahajournals.org/content/106/21/2747.full
Harvard study: Women, Work and Stress- Related Heart Disease: www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/women-work-stress-and-heart-disease-5-ways-to-protect-yourself
Low Vitamin D linked to Heart Disease: www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/26/us-vitamind-heartdisease-idUSTRE7AO1UM20111126
****Remember to add chocolate health blog when it is live
Healthy heart benefits of Sharon fruit: www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-19687/Sharon-fruit-reduce-heart-attacks.html
Further Information (links and books)
The John Hopkins Complete Guide for Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease, Peter Kwiterovich
Preventing Silent Heart Disease, Harold L. Karpman
Bypassing Bypass, Elmer Cranton
Dr Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease, Dean Ornish
www.nanocal.com (877) 626-6225
Magnesium, Magnesium oxide powder
www.lef.org (800) 678-8989
www.ivlproducts.com (800) 720-1245
Natural Vitamin E, Unique E
www.iherb.com (951) 616-3600
Omega-3s, Cod Liver oil
www.drrons.com (877) 472-8701
Oral Chelation, Enhanced Oral Chelation
www.cellercise.com (800) 856-4863
Soft Laser Therapy, Q1000 Soft Laser
www.softlasertherapy.org (803) 955-0178
Dietary Supplement, CardioQ
www.vitalmaxvitamins.com (800) 815-5151
Organic Herbal Tincture, Cardio Vital
www.biowell.net (800) 877-2434
Enzyme Therapy, Cardio Essentials
Dietary Supplement, Cardio Support
www.iherb.com (951) 616-3600
Enzyme Therapy, CoQMelt
www.northstarnutritionals.com (800) 913-2592
Andrea Butje | Aromahead [email protected] – aromatherapy
Carrie Vitt [email protected] – organic food recipes.
David Spector-NSR/USA [email protected] – meditation, stress
Judith Hoad [email protected] – herbalist.
Kath May [email protected] – reiki, tai chi.
Lillian Bridges [email protected] – Chinese medicine, living naturally.
Monika [email protected] – aromatherapy.
Rakesh [email protected] – Ayurvedic Practitioner.