A Dr. Bob “Approved” Heart
Sadly, if you read the obituary pages, there are more people passing on today in their thirties and forties from a “short illness” (heart attack) than any other time in history. What is going on here? Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the Western world. Now, let me ask you some thought-provoking questions about your own understanding of heart health. I will share my opinion in the paragraph located below the questions.
* What causes a heart attack?
* Can normal weight people have a heart attack?
* Can people who take cholesterol-lowering medications get heart attacks?
* Are beef and cheese the primary reasons your blood vessels get plugged?
* Is margarine safe?
From my experience and perspective, the exact cause of heart attacks is not necessarily known. Yes, there is much speculation and, depending on what drug or medical supply company paid for the “research,” the results are often skewed to create a platform so they can suggest the medication or services they are promoting. The competition is fierce and the monetary stakes are high. The bottom line with all the medication and procedures, including angioplasties and stents is that their positive impact on long-term heart health is a very small three percent. The theory that plugged vessels from accumulation of cholesterol is obviously not stopping heart attacks and disease from being one of the primary causes of death.
People of any size can have a heart attack; although, from my experience, being overweight does not promote life. Having more tissue for the body to oversee can precipitate many common causes of death including cancer and diabetes; obesity’s negative effect on health is staggering. I have observed people with what appears to be a fast metabolism who are thin, eating with reckless abandon, (including body inflammation-inducing convenience and fast foods with sugar and trans fat) be disabled due to heart health issues. Smoking is also a common poisonous toxin for all tissues in the body.
It is now commonly accepted by those in the health field that inflammation plays a major role in the restriction of blood flow to heart muscle. The heart muscle demands an uninterrupted flow of oxygen. Yes, people have heart attacks and even die while on cholesterol lowering medication with normal cholesterol levels. That should suggest something.
Let’s talk about cholesterol:
Your liver will make cholesterol, as much as is necessary for your body. Actually, 75% of cholesterol is made to meet the need. I am not suggesting you eat beef daily, however, I can tell you as a side note that if your liver is functioning up-to-par, it can handle it. Our Western culture dietary addictions continue to create poor liver function. Inflammation in the body is one of the leading causes of blood vessel disease. Ninety-percent of heart and other chronic conditions can be prevented by focusing on vegetables, healthy oils (olive, flax, sesame seed), and minimal insulin stimulating items including sweet fruits and sugar.
Margarine is not a food. It was originally made with partially hydrogenated oil or trans fat. It was promoted to be safer and better than butter because it did not have cholesterol in the ‘make-up’. Years of promoting “You can’t fool Mother Nature” advertisements has had individuals deathly afraid of a tab of butter. Margarine has never been safe or good; the facts on negative information were released on trans fat or partially hydrogenated oil in 1998. Is this the first you have heard of it.
Margarine with trans fat not only raises the LDL cholesterol labeled as bad, it lowers the HDL cholesterol also known as the good cholesterol. Were you duped? I’ll bet yes! It is not too late to change, but you are going to have to change your mindset.
Sub par thyroid function has a potentially negative impact on heart health because of its effect on cholesterol metabolism and another item called homocysteine. When the thyroid is stuck on low, cholesterol tends to elevate with or without dietary restrictions. Your goal should be to have your LDL cholesterol below 75 as a way to prevent potential atherosclerosis (fat in the lining of the blood vessels). I have witnessed elevated LDL cholesterol levels in patients who have an inflammation diet. If I were you, I would start your own investigation on your heart health strategies.
Research over the past decade has identified another factor that seems to be as important as diet and lifestyle. The risk factor is high blood levels of homocysteine. Homocysteine is created when the amino acid, methionine, (found in red meat and dairy products) is broken down in the body. Under ideal circumstances, the body breaks down homocysteine with the help of vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid.
Studies continue to establish stronger links between even moderately elevated blood levels of homocysteine and heart disease. In the 1992 Physicians’ Health Study, men with very high homocysteine levels had a risk of heart attack three times that of men with normal homocysteine levels. In fact, an elevated homocysteine level was such a dominant factor, that it indicated increased risk even in the men who had no other cardiovascular risks.
Because of the importance of homocysteine levels of heart attack risk factors, efforts thus far have concentrated on lowering high levels through any means possible. And, up until now, the only consistently successful approach has been to increase the intake of whole food B vitamins. However, new research indicates that lowering homocysteine levels in this manner may be simply masking a more serious, underlying problem that causes the elevating in the first place-an underactive thyroid.
Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic have released findings showing that correcting an underactive thyroid gland normalizes elevated homocysteine levels in the blood. Even more amazing is that the researchers were able to normalize homocysteine levels without having to administer any of the B vitamins. In other words, correcting the thyroid conditionk, in turn, corrected the vitamin deficiency.  Annals of Internal Medicine, 1999: 131 (5): 348-51.
When it comes to heart health, we are dealing with several issues:
1. Flawless blood flow; creating unrestricted movement of blood: The best to do is cut back on sugar and trans fat that precipitates inflammation restricted blood flow.
3. Reducing whatever is causing the inflammation in the vessels: Stop eating ice cream and yogurt!
4. Normalizing thyroid function: Have your TSH, T3, and T4 tested, you do not want sub par function.
5. Assessing homocysteine levels and correcting accordingly: B vitamins and thyroid function help control cysteine levels, a marker that can precipitate heart challenges.
Did you know omega-3 flax oil, if taken regularly, promotes a healthy environment for your heart with the production of healthy heart fats called EPA and a fat tissue hormone called prostaglandin 3 (PG3) that minimizes inflammation?
If you start eating walnuts, mixed greens, green beans, and flax oil, you are moving in the right direction. I would look for deep ocean salmon and make sure that it is coming from the ocean, not a farm. I do not recommend regular usage of salmon capsules for all patients who live in temperate climates.
I personally take two teaspoons of Anchovy/Sardine oils for heart health and omega-3 fats-it works for me. I would prefer you use plant sourced omega-3 fats like olive oil, which I have with my daily salad.
If you have any general health questions about this article, please email askdrbob at druglessdoctor dot com, or schedule a consultation with Dr. Bob.