Cardiovascular Disease: Its understanding and prevention

by G.P. McRostie, OMD., ND


(as published in Comment newsletter (Aberfeldy) from February to July 2011, plus further information)

This is the introduction to a series of articles through which I would like to share my knowledge of molecular biology as pertains to cardiovascular health, and what can be done at home to change the disease process.

The information I wish to share with you is based on medical research and epidemiological statistics as well as my own 30 years clinical experience. Patients sometimes question if this science based approach is useful, why the health service is not applying such concepts. In response all I can point to is that when penicillin was discovered by Scotland’s own Dr Alexander Fleming, it took 50 years before it was ever used in clinical practice! Established systems are slow to evolve by their very nature.

Heart disease graph

Incidents of heart disease in the UK
compared with the rest of the EU

Cardiovascular disease is rampant in the U.K. with 1 in 4 men and 1 in 6 women affected, and increasing annually! In 50% of people with cardiovascular disease the first symptom they develop is death. On the other hand, the good news from the Lyon Heart Study of 58,000 patients over a 25 year period is that with lifestyle changes, over 80% of those who had experienced a stroke or heart attack after two years had no symptoms and needed no further medication. The endothelium (linings of blood vessels) is a living organ and can be redeveloped. I wish to make such information available for your own use, and for discussion with your cardiologist.

In this column I will explain: 1) why sugars and especially fructose contributes to stroke and heart attack. 2) Do you know that if your cholesterol is below 4.1mmol/L all cause mortality doubles? Healthy cholesterol is needed to repair the damaged tissues. What is known about cholesterol biologically, and why statin drugs help for 6 months and after that increase the risk of stroke and heart attack; and what you can do to re-establish cholesterol metabolism to restore health. 3) Do you know that certain foods raise your blood pressure? The new gold standard for disease prevention is 115- 120/ 70- 75 mm/Hg. How you can achieve and maintain healthy blood pressure. 4) Regular exercise is an important part of therapy; how to do this safely to strengthen the heart and vasculature. 5) The cardiovascular effects from the digestive processes and how your digestion can damage your heart. 6) The Nobel Prize awarded research on homocysteine and nitric oxide, and how restoring these metabolic processes eliminate the underlying inflammation in your heart and blood vessels. 7) The heart is a pump, delivering oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and an organ of love and emotion; the rhythm is regulated by hormones and disturbed by stress hormones. 8) Questions and answers.

What is Metabolic Syndrome X?

Metabolic Syndrome X (also known as the metabolic syndrome, syndrome x and insulin resistance syndrome) is a cluster of symptoms that may be caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors that increase a person's risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Fatigue Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Depression
Central obsesity Hormonal disturbances Sleep apnea
Hypertension Peripheral neuropathy Skin tags
High cholesterol Uncontrolled diabetes Ancanthosis nigricans
Elevated triglycerides Coronary heart disease Heart palpitations
Difficulty losing weight Blurred vision Memory problems

Signs and Symptoms:

Heart function







Diagnosis:

The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes.htm (NHANES III), and the National Institutes of Health http://www.nih.gov (NIH) defined an individual with Metabolic Syndrome X (MSX) as a person with three or more of the following conditions:

Waist circumference is greater than 40 inches(102cm) in men, or greater than 35 inches(88 cm) in women. A serum triglyceride level above 150mg/L (1,7 mmol/L). HDL cholesterol below 40 mg/dL (1.04 mmol/L) in men, below 50 mg/dL (1.29) in women. Blood pressure raised above 135mg/85mm Hg, or taking a hypertensive medication. Fasting blood glucose above 110mg/dL (6.1 mmol/L) or taking antidiabetic medication.

NHANES III indicated that 24% of the US population has MSX, and the percentage increased dramatically with age, affecting 43% of the population in 60-69 year olds.

How excess refined sugars affect your heart and blood vessels:

Study of molecular function in heart disease and stroke highlights Metabolic Syndrome as a major contributor to these diseases. Metabolic Syndrome is characterised by increased levels of both glucose (blood sugar) and insulin in the blood.  My observation is that patients with cardiovascular disease have a sugar handling problem as a significant contributing factor.  The NHANES III criteria above are diagnostic of pathology, however the following criteria are indicative that the patient is developing Metabolic Syndrome. Definitive blood laboratory for insulin and haemoglobin A1C (the assessment for glucose bonded to your blood cells) is available, however your standard laboratory data and symptoms have indications:  if the HDL/LDL (high-density lipoprotein /low-density lipoprotein) ratio of cholesterols is greater than 1:3 (the levels could be within normal limits); blood pressure above 135/85 mm/Hg; your fasting blood sugar is above 5mmol; triglycerides (a cholesterol combined with glucose) is over 1.5mmol/L; abdominal fat measured as the ratio of waist to hip dimension is above 8/1 in women (1/1 in men); and craving of sweets, are all indicative of chronically elevated insulin and glucose. The proportional ratios are the significant data. Normal ranges are the national average and not indicators of health. In fact over 98% of humans have normal laboratory values within 48 hours of death.

This analysis goes beyond the current standards of care, so the references are available here on our website for your doctor and yourself to view. Biologically the life force in cells (ATP) is developed from either oxygen and cholesterol, or glucose. Metabolism of sugar for energy is only 5% as efficient; producing lactate accumulation in the muscle which causes soreness after exercise. It also does this in the heart muscle. In athletic performance, sugar also lowers your endurance capacity.

When the sugar level is always high, the cell membrane destroys some of the insulin receptors protecting against mutation of your DNA. Insulin thus loses the ability to put the glucose into the cellular metabolism to give you energy.  Consequently glucose increases in the blood stream, and the glands increase insulin and stress hormones, which then raise your blood pressure. The glucose starts producing fat cells and binds to the linings inside your heart and arteries.

What occurs in the blood vessels is that excess sugar, rather than being used for energy, binds to the intima, the inner wall of the blood vessels, making the normally pliable tissue hard and brittle. Rigidity in the blood vessel contributes to spasms that seize the heart, atherosclerosis and embolism, and rupture of the vessel in stroke.

The amount and frequency of sugar consumption in the UK has increased to levels averaging 1.25 lbs of sugar per person weekly! Given this information, it is no wonder that cardiovascular disease affects 20% of women and 25% of men in the UK. Hidden sugars are the culprit as many people do not realise there is sugar in packaged food generally, not only desserts, snack foods and soft drinks, but also breads, packaged cereals, pizza or sausages for example, not to mention drinks. You have to read the labels carefully to find where all this sugar is coming from. Fructose and corn sweeteners are the worst as they require even less metabolism before flooding the blood stream.

In nature, sugars are in a carbohydrate complex with many nutrients that protect your cardiovascular system, and require multiple metabolic processes before glucose can be utilised. This prevents surges in blood glucose levels. The white powder residue of carbohydrates stripped of trace minerals, vitamins and flavanoids contributes to degeneration of the cardiovascular system.

Everyone can benefit from dietary reduction of refined carbohydrates and elimination of sugars. The one medically recognised factor that compresses morbidity and extends longevity (you live longer with less illness at the end of life) is the 30% reduction of calorie intake to keep the body lean. Rather than not eating, focus the dietary intake on vegetables. This has a two fold benefit, increasing flavonoid and anti-oxidant nutrients which are cardiovascular protective, as well as reducing the overall calorie intake. The art is to develop delectable recipes so the palate is satisfied. With disease I also recommend professional analysis and monitoring in the application of nutrients at therapeutic levels. This can be an effective intervention in disease, but amounts above metabolic need can cause other problems.

You should be concerned when body fat is predominantly abdominal rather than evenly distributed, you crave sweets throughout the day, wake at night and need to eat something to get back to sleep, have blood pressures of 135/85 mm/Hg, or are taking medication for blood pressure. These are common signs of Metabolic Syndrome.

Next month I will discuss the solution. Meanwhile eat more fruit for snacks and desserts, and read the labels on packaged food to educate yourself on this issue.

Also see video: Sugar: the bitter truth Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin. Also see: Is sugar toxic? A commentary of Robert Lustig's talk, by Gary Taubes, journalist for the New York Times.


The health risks of trans fats (aka trans-fatty acids):

From: The Journal of American Dietetic Association 2010: “A 2% absolute increase in energy intake from trans fat has been associated with a 23% increase in cardiovascular risk.”  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20338284 (A packet of crisps and a biscuit a day). For alternative snacks and treats see our recipes page.


Dietary recommendations:

Nutrition, herbs and pharmaceutical drugs perform in the same biochemical manner. Hippocrates said “let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”.  Cardiovascular diseases are a result of lifestyle imbalances. You need to be interested in changing your life to become disease free. No medication, herb or nutrient can replace a healthy diet.

celeryCelery juice is one alternative for opening up the blood vessels. It can lower blood pressure because of the compound 3-n-butyl-phthalide, which relaxes the muscles in the wall of the arteries causing them to widen and allow blood to flow more freely. Studies performed at the University of Chicago show that simply drinking celery juice or eating 4 stalks every day for one week can help lower blood pressure because of its vasodilation capabilities.

Bananas: According to the Harvard Medical School, bananas are rich in potassium, which helps the blood vessels dilate because the fruit increases sodium excretion in the urine. The Harvard study showed that men who ate a higher number of potassium-rich foods had a 38 percent lower risk of stroke than those who did not because of its vasodilation qualities.

Dark chocolate: can be a helpful treat in dilating blood vessels.

Dark chocolate is beneficial in boosting blood vessel dilation because of its flavonoids. Flavonoids are a group of chemical compounds derived from plants that are shown to decrease oxidation of LDL cholesterol and inhibit the aggregation of blood platelets. Clinical studies performed at the University of California - San Francisco show that small daily doses of dark chocolate increased flow-mediated dilation of the blood vessels. The caveat here is that chocolate is commonly blended with sugars and other substances that promote heart disease. Use pure organic cocoa and roll fruit slices in it as a healthy treat. Or mix it with raw almond butter and coconut to make a dessert bar. In Peru they mix it with ginger and chilli as a hot drink, very stimulating and chocolaty without the sweet.

Flavonoids in food:

Flavonoids chart

chilli peppersChili peppers can dilate blood vessels and lower cholesterol. The ingredient, capsaicin, which gives the chilis their fieriness, cause LDL to resist oxidation for a longer period. This allows the heart to not work as hard, therefore reducing the risks of heart attacks, high blood pressure and stroke according to an Australian research team that reported their findings in the British Journal of Nutrition.

AsparagusAsparagus, thin green spears with a small, leafy top, are heart-friendly. According to the World's Healthiest Foods, asparagus contains 65 percent of the recommended daily allowance of folate, which converts harmful homocysteine into cysteine. In the body, homocysteine can damage blood vessels and limits the production of collagen, which forms vital connective tissues. Also, folate helps fight birth defects in children by preventing problems with the formation of neural tubes, making it a vital nutrient for expectant mothers.

broccoliBroccoli and brassica vegetables can help protect the heart against damage. Though often derided as a vegetable loathed by children, broccoli is great for the heart. According to BBC News, cardiovascular researchers at the University of Connecticut studying broccoli's heart benefits state that their studies show it may help in the production of a protein, thioredoxin, which protects the heart against damage at the cellular level. Broccoli improves circulation and allows the heart to endure less damage if it is deprived of oxygen for a brief period, preparing the heart to better handle emergency situations, according to a Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry study. BBC News recommends lightly steaming broccoli (2 ½ minutes) leaving it ‘al dente’ to avoid overcooking it, which can reduce its nutritional value.

bell peppersBell peppers contain potassium, which lowes the blood pressure: Green, yellow, orange and red bell peppers are good for the heart and can be eaten raw or cooked. Red peppers, in particular, contain generous amounts of lycopene, an antioxidant shown to decrease the risk of cancer and heart disease in some studies. Also, bell peppers contain large amounts of soluble fiber, which can help to reduce cholesterol levels in the body. According to Courier Magazine, bell peppers also contain 162 milligrams of potassium per serving, which lowers blood pressure and thus helps the heart.

Black beans: People who eat one 3-ounce serving of black beans a day decrease their risk of heart black beansattack by 38 percent, according to a study in the Journal of Nutrition. And while other beans are also good for your heart, none can boost your brainpower like black beans. That's because they're full of anthocyanins (see Flavonoids in Food chart above) , antioxidant compounds that have been shown to improve brain function. They're also packed with superstar nutrients, including protein, healthy fats, folate, magnesium, B vitamins, potassium, and fiber.

auberginesAubergine: The skin of eggplants contain heart-healthy antioxidants. Beneath its purple skin, naturally low-fat eggplant contains various nutrients which are good for the heart. Eggplants contain chlorogenic acid, which helps cut down on bad cholesterol and thus allows blood to move through the heart easier. Eggplant skin also contains the antioxidant nasunin, which can help the body cut down on excessive levels or iron, which can put people at risk for cardiovascular disease.

You may know what foods to avoid to keep your levels of "bad cholesterol" in check -- no mounds of butter on your bread, or ice cream for dessert every night -- but what are some foods you should be including in your diet to ensure a healthy heart? Here are the top "superfoods" that can lower your cholesterol:

Oats: Many studies have found that increasing the dietary intake of oat products -- as well as legumes and other high-fiber foods -- can play a significant role in decreasing "bad cholesterol" LDL (low density lipid) levels. Soluble fiber seems to help reduce LDL levels by grabbing onto the cholesterol and eliminating it from the body through the digestive system. Some excellent fiber-rich choices besides oatmeal and oat bran include beans, barley, apples and prunes.

The great news is that it doesn't take 10 servings of a fiber-rich food to do your heart good. One USDA study concluded that eating as little as one-half cup of cooked dry beans per day helped lower total cholesterol levels of the study participants.

Fatty Fish: Wild salmon, sardines and anchovies are all rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Considerable research links these "healthy fats" to various health benefits. They not only reduce LDL levels, but they help lower high blood pressure and cut cardiovascular risk. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids may also raise levels of "good cholesterol" HDL (high density lipid), which helps ferry bad cholesterol to the liver, where it can be eliminated from the body.

Given these benefits, it's no wonder that the American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults with no history of heart disease should consume at least two servings of baked or grilled fatty fish each week. As for those who don't eat fish, try soybeans, seeds or nuts. A study in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association reported that omega-3 fatty acids from nuts (such as walnuts) and seeds (such as flaxseed) had as much impact on blood pressure as omega-3 fatty acids from fish. But watch the intake of nuts, which are high in calories. Just a handful a day is enough to provide benefits for the heart.

Olive Oil and Raw Nuts: Research has also shown that it's important to cut down on saturated fat and trans fats. Trans fats are listed in the "nutrition facts" on food labels; they can also be found in the product's list of ingredients, marked as "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" fats or oils. Try to replace these unhealthy fats with healthier monounsaturated fats, as found in extra virgin olive oil and raw nuts, especially almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts. Doing so can help lower your LDL and raise your HDL levels.

But even "good" fats should be eaten in moderation because all types of fat contain more than twice the calories of proteins or carbohydrates.

If you have systolic blood pressure above 135mm/hg or any cardiovascular health problem, sugars and white flour will make the disease worse. Create alternatives for desserts and snacks, and do not eat food from packages, and do not take bottled drinks. Fruit and vegetable crudités with cheese, hummus, olives, celery stalks with filling, instead of biscuits. Make healthy sweeties from a base of raw nut butter (almond sesame, hazel) add raw nuts and seeds, chopped apricot, cocoa, coconut et al.roll into balls and you have healthy protein treats. Peanuts are a pulse and need to be roasted, and provide arginine which helps with blood pressure, unless you are prone to migraine.

80% of heart and stroke patients in the Lyon Heart Study that changed their life habits to follow a Mediterranean diet and started daily walking for an hour (can be broken into two 30 minute or three 20 minute walks) reversed their cardiovascular disease and did not need further medication after 2 years.


Sample Mediterranean Diet

Breakfast: oats raw or cooked from scratch with walnuts and plain yogurt, fresh fruit.

Snack: an orange, 2 handfuls of raw sunflower seeds

Lunch: lentil and spinach soup (add the spinach in at the last minute; cook until just wilted), cucumber and tomato salad with olive oil and cider vinegar dressing with rosemary, oregano and black pepper, whole grain bread with olive oil. (Most prepared salad dressings have sugar and trans-fats and glutamate)

Snack: 2 oz cheese with an apple

Tea: pasta al dente with tomato, peppers, parmesan, fish and olive oil; lettuce and rocket salad with olives; 1-2 glasses (not more) of red wine; baked fruit with cinnamon, nutmeg etc.

Beverages are water and tea.


Dr. McRostie's 'bliss ball' recipe:

When we crave something sweet we are often lacking in sufficient dietary proteins or vitamin C foods from fresh fruits and vegetables. For an occasional treat the 'bliss ball' is a healthy sugar free option:

1 spoon of raw nut butter, almond is good but different ones will provide a different base flavour, coconut is very exotic, peanuts are a pulse and need to be roasted. Do not use nut butters with palm or other oil added. Natural nut butters tend to separate, just stir them up (or grind your own), then mix in raw sunflower seeds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans et cetera as desired. Add some dried chopped apricots, or currants, cherries, pineapple, or other dried tart fruit that has not been treated with sulphur dioxide.

Add 1 spoon pure cocoa powder and mix to a consistency thick enough to roll into balls. If you need a thickener you could also add a non denatured and unsweetened whey protein powder in the base, but try increasing the solid ingredients. Roll the balls in some dried coconut and you have a protein treat that is a great replacement for a sweet. The raw nuts and seeds provide protein and essential fatty acids often lacking in our modern diets. By varying the mix you can develop quite a variety. These proved very popular when I was studying and paid my way through a year of college back in the last century, but they are very rich and moderation is relevant to prevent digestive problems.



Natural Antihypertensive Compounds

Categorized by Antihypertensive Class

Mark Houston, MD, SCH, ABAAM, FACP, FAHA
Saint Thomas Medical Group, Nashville, Tennessee, US

Nutritional & Cardiovascular medication alternatives.


Efficacy is more pronounced when these are used as a group rather than individually.

I must emphasize that information from the following table needs to be used under proper supervision.
Genetic variability from one person to another can affect amount required for benefit,
or the level producing toxic excess, by factors of 100 x !!!

Click here or on table below to view larger image

Natural Antihypertensive Compounds

Homocysteine: researched and discovered by Nobel Laureate Kilmer McCully MD. A normal part of sulphur metabolism that should produce SAMe and cysteine stabilizing the nervous system and emotional experience and connective tissue membranes in the joints and heart. An interesting side note here; people on antidepressant medication have a significant increase in heart disease. Homocysteine requires B6, B12, Betaine, and folic acid as cofactors. When it accumulates it causes inflammation in the heart and blood vessels. Healthy ranges are 5-8 according to Dr McCully.

Modifying your cholesterol levels

The Inuit people of northern Canada traditionally ate a 90% cholesterol diet (raw or cooked rare) and had no strokes or heart disease. This changed when we introduced flour, sugar and tinned food to their diet. The total cholesterol is only reduced 8% if you stop eating all cholesterol. This research demonstrates that cholesterol is internally generated for survival of the organism. Cholesterol only becomes a health problem when it starts attaching to the endothelial and other tissues rather than being utilised to develop metabolically essential products necessary to maintain life.

Plant sterols found in the bran of grains, green vegetables, raw seeds/nuts such as betasitosterol can increase HDL (high density lipids) and reduce LDL (low density lipids) in the blood. The low density lipids increase with oxidation of the cholesterol and contribute to arterial plaque. Red yeast rice and commiphora mukul herb are cholesterol blockers like statin drugs (statin drugs are chemically designed to copy red yeast rice). I tend not to recommend blocking cholesterol metabolism even via natural substances; rather increase its metabolism via normal biology, effectively reducing blood levels. Statin drugs which block cholesterol help reduce inflammation in the blood vessels, but gradually the muscle tissue becomes starved for fat soluble vitamins (ie EPA, CoQ10, vitamin E) increasing risk for heart attack and stroke. The indication and common side effect from statin medication is muscle pain.

Foods to avoid: all transfats and fructose from fried food, crisps, commercial baked goods. Fructose sugar, and alcohol above two portions disrupt citrate metabolism in the liver resulting in cirrhosis, fatty liver, and metabolic syndrome, contributing to elevated LDL and depressed HDL cholesterols in the blood. This in turn increases overall pain and accelerates cardiovascular disease.

What to do: For breakfast see above. Grill, bake, sauté in olive oil on lower temperature cooker, or steam food. Cook with fresh rather than packaged food. Snack on berries, olives, raw nuts, vegetable crudités with raw cheese instead of biscuits etc. Eat ten servings of fruit and vegetables throughout the day. Not only does this lower cholesterol, it provides a myriad of molecules that reduce disease in your body. And you will feel energised and satiated, not craving that sweet. For desserts use fruit and raw cheeses, or learn to make puddings and ice cream (made with fresh cream, coconut or almond or soy milks and fruit, and a cinnamon-cocoa sauce) without creating transfats and without adding sugar. Increase flavonoids in your diet with green vegetables, onions and apples. Anthrocyanins are found in fruits and vegetables with purple colours. Elderberries, red grapes especially with the seeds, 1-2 glasses of red wine (but not beneficial if more alcohol is consumed), blueberries, blackberries, purple cabbages, onions and beetroot are examples. These do not reduce cholesterol in the blood; however they do reduce cholesterol streaks in the arteries by blocking VCAM1 (vascular cell adhesion molecule 1). Both green and black tea also protect against atherosclerosis. Saturated vegetable oils (heated by cooking, margarines, and packaged foods) are the source of transfats. These cholesterols cause disease by displacing cysfats in the cell membrane making it rigid, limiting cell biology and health. Fish poached or baked just soft, raw nuts and seeds, olives and olive oil. Cook organic field raised meat to red on low temperature and free range eggs boiled or poached with runny yolks served on a bed of spinach. All these provide the good cholesterols.

See also: "Dietary Fats and Coronary Heart Disease" by The Institute for Functional Medicine (PDF)

Blood Pressure and diet: Sugar and especially fructose and high fructose corn sweetener in fizzy drinks and packaged snacks and desserts is the number one factor causing hypertension in the UK. Nitrates in cured meats and sausages also raise your blood pressure, as does glutamate in crisps and packaged foods; and this effect lasts for 3 to 5 days! Coffee constricts your blood vessels raising blood pressure. Tea although containing caffeine dilates your blood vessels. 6 glasses of water and 10 servings of fresh fruit and green vegetables will lower your blood pressure as much as medication over 2-3 weeks. Read a Mediterranean cookbook for ideas on how to make this a delectable taste treat. Walking for at least 20 minutes 2-3 times a day will lower blood pressure by 10mm/Hg. Eat fresh wild caught fish 3-5 times a week that is baked or poached and not breaded. Eat a handful of raw almonds, walnuts, or hazels 5 times weekly. Use whole grains and pulses regularly. Cook with olive oil.

Deep breathing and exercise of the upper body 15 minutes twice a day will lower blood pressure as much as medication. 

Herbs for hypertension

Coleus foskolii
Digitalis pupurea Ginkgo Biloba
Coleus Foskolii
Digitalis pupurea
Ginkgo Biloba
Ginseng
Centella asiatica hawthorn
Ginseng
Centella asiatica
Hawthorn
Melissa
Oregano rauwolfa serpentina
Melissa
Oregano
Rauwolfa Serpentina
Rosemary Salvia militorriza Schizandra
Rosemary
Salvia Militorriza
Schizandra
Terminalia arjuna Vinca Minor
Withania Somnifera
Terminalia Arjuna
Vinca minor
Withania somnifera

Dosing is 4 times a day until the blood pressure is 110-115/70-75 mm/Hg; introduce these herbs gradually as these can cause hypotension resulting in another group of problems. Coleus forskolii, hawthorne, rauwolfia, salvia militoriza, and water extracts of melissa, oregano, and rosemary all lower blood pressure.  From my oriental medicine training, I like to combine small amounts of all these herbs rather than give a single herb in large doses. Additionally brown kelp undaria pinnatifida at 3.3 gm/day and grape seeds lower blood pressure and protect the brain and heart from oxidation damage better than aspirin. Nutritionally the number one supplement for hypertension and arrhythmia is magnesium citrate, glycinate or sulphate. A key symptom is if you can feel your heart beating, or hear it beating, or have muscle cramps check for magnesium need. The appropriate blood test is specifically red blood cell magnesium. Interestingly chlorophyll and haemoglobin have the same molecular structure with the change of magnesium for iron in chlorophyll. Green leaves are our food source. Research on magnesium goes back 100 years. Start with 150mg/3x day and increase every 4th day to bowel tolerance. If you take too much all at once you will have diarrhoea, so build up slowly. In urgent need it works very well intravenously.

Exercise: Restorative walking is based on the individual's capacity to deliver oxygen into the heart and body tissues. This in turn regenerates the heart muscle. However, when we exercise beyond our aerobic capacity, the heart can be further damaged due to insufficient oxygen and cholesterol available to the cells. Endurance athletes often suffer an immune crash 2-3 days following a competitive run. This is due to the surge in free radical oxygen from the strain of running for hours under prolonged anaerobic stress. Yes they are running and breathing hard, but the physiologic capacity for delivering oxygen into the muscles is exceeded, and the anaerobic metabolism of glucose results in acidic reduction of tissue levels of oxygen. Delivery of oxygen from the blood to the cells is first depleted, and then surges, replenishing the muscles and organs. During this resupply the acids grab electrons from the oxygen, leaving ionised free radical oxygen which balances itself by taking other electrons from the tissues; and this consequentially results in strains, sprains, general inflammation, and immune suppression. This same biology affects the cardiovascular patient even with walking.

You have stopped eating sugar and are taking nutritional heart support (i. e: fish oil, whey, CoQ10, gamma E, B vitamins, grape seeds) and are ready to get your strength back. Before exercise we need to evaluate the appropriate heart rate for you. Subtract your age from 180. For example: the maximum for a person 64yo will be 180-64=116 bpm (beats per minute), and subtract 10 more for any health condition or injury. The first three months exercise target heart rate is above 106 bpm so the heart has to work harder, but below 116 bpm , otherwise oxygen to the heart muscle will be depleted. If free of injury or illness after 30-60 minutes walking 4-6 days a week for 3 months, add 10 bpm for the next 3 months maximum, exercising at 116-126 bpm and so on. You will gradually go further and faster while maintaining the same heart rate! You must exercise in a manner where you feel refreshed and could easily repeat the activity. If you feel fatigued and need to rest, you have pushed past the point of rebuilding your health and endurance.

"Exercise 'can be as good as pills' by Michelle Roberts, Health editor, BBC News online, 2nd October 2013
Exercise can be as good a medicine as pills for people with conditions such as heart disease, a study has found.

The work in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) looked at hundreds of trials involving nearly 340,000 patients to assess the merits of exercise and drugs in preventing death. Physical activity rivalled some heart drugs and outperformed stroke medicine. The findings suggest exercise should be added to prescriptions, say the researchers.

Experts stressed that patients should not ditch their drugs for exercise - rather, they should use both in tandem.

Prescriptions rise
Too few adults currently get enough exercise. Only a third of people of England do the recommend 2.5 hours or more of moderate-intensity activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week. In contrast, prescription drug rates continue to rise. There were an average of 17.7 prescriptions for every person in England in 2010, compared with 11.2 in 2000. For the study, scientists based at the London School of Economics, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute at Harvard Medical School and Stanford University School of Medicine trawled medical literature to find any research that compared exercise with pills as a therapy. They identified 305 trials to include in their analysis. These trials looked at managing conditions such as existing heart disease, stroke rehabilitation, heart failure and pre-diabetes. When they studied the data as a whole, they found exercise and drugs were comparable in terms of death rates. But there were two exceptions. Drugs called diuretics were the clear winner for heart failure patients, while exercise was best for stroke patients in terms of life expectancy...Moderate physical activity....can reduce the risk of stroke by up to 27%."

Nitric oxide (NO) is the active molecule inducing vasodilation. The Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded to Ignaro et al for this research. In molecular biology L. Arginine provides the substrate (highest in soy, seeds, vegetables, shell fish) and NO is released in the blood vessel walls causing dilation and lowering of the blood pressure. The cofactors required are: alpha lipoic acid (spinach, liver, brewer’s yeast), B3 (liver, peanuts, baking yeast, tuna, chicken, wheat and rice bran, B6, vitamin C, magnesium (all in greens), N acetylcysteine (meat, eggs, garlic, onions, broccoli, red peppers). Chewing the appropriate nutrient will have an immediate effect on the blood pressure often reducing systolic blood pressure by 20mm/Hg in 5 minutes when nitric oxide release is a factor.

Arterial plaqueThick blood [commonly caused by: too much sugar, too little water, infection, bowel stagnation, stomach bacteria or deficient gastric secretions, problems with gall bladder or kidney clearance] Symptomatically use proteolytic and pancreatic enzymes taken with water away from food to thin the blood, but the cause needs to be identified and resolved. Nattokinase from fermented soy and rice is most effective. For stoke treatment earthworm combined with herbs (centella asiatica, gingko, hawthorne, periwinkle, salvia militorrhiza) will dissolve clots and extravasated blood (the blood outside the artery that degrades the brain tissue) and clean up the damage especially during the first 30 days. Both these enzyme sources and silkworm enzymes will digest arteriole plaque. EPA fish oil fraction, turmeric, ginkgo leaf and green tea 3-4 times a day will thin the blood. Caution: too thin blood can also cause heart problems. Have your doctor monitor osmolarity (thickness) or prothrombin time (clotting factor) of the blood to evaluate need and monitor therapy.

Congestive heart failure and mitral valve prolapse; When the heart looses the capacity to pump the main factors are either muscle function or incomplete valve closure. Nutritionally I often find thiamine (B1), Coenzyme Q10, D ribose, inositol, pantethene (B5); adrenal, thyroid or testosterone hormone deficiency (even in women); and calcium/trace mineral imbalances (kelp). Each of these factors affect the capacity of the heart to contract via different molecular pathways.

Herbs to strengthen the heart: digitalis purpurea/foxglove (toxic if overdosed), ginseng, liquorice (as long as there is no hypertension), ophiopogon, shizandra, terminalia arjuna, withania somnifera.

Inflammation; 60% of acute heart problems are associated with infection, often involving the lungs or kidneys. Chlamydia is particularly noted in the literature. The herbs from our lecture on the immune functions last year, combined with the enzymes that thin the blood listed above are an effective solution. Aspirin, paracetemol help short term, however contribute to tissue degeneration with prolonged use. Sugar, chronic low grade infection, toxic accumulation of heavy metals, garden spray both artificial fertilizer as well as pesticide, fungicide, herbicide chemicals make it harder for your liver and kidneys to clean your blood. If there are blood changes you become severely ill, so your metabolism takes them out of circulation and deposits the acids in the muscles and joints. The aching and arthritic symptoms are in the knees and legs when the kidneys are affected, and in the hands and shoulders when the liver is affected.

GarlicLack of nutrient, quantity and quality. To thin your blood, lower your blood pressure, or fight an infection a clove of garlic is inadequate. Eat a head of garlic through the day. If this causes garlic breath or body odour it indicates deficiency of vitamin C, molybdenum, or B5 which are necessary to process the sulphur metabolically.

More foods for heart chemistry. a) polyphenols particularly quercitin (in onions, apples, green leaves lightly steamed or raw, especially buckwheat and barley greens) and picnogenol from grape seeds and pine bark in the tea help protect the linings of blood vessels from oxidation better than aspirin.

b) B vitamins; brewing yeast, whole grains, liver cooked rare, soft eggs
c) sulphur; garlic, brassica sprouts or cabbage family vegetables (beets, bok choi, cauliflower, chard, kale, mustard leaves, turnip) cooked 2.5 min.d) vit E raw or sprouted seeds and nuts, whole grain especially the bran of rice and the germ of wheat,
e) vit C sour fruits like elderberry and plums, green vegetables that still have texture after brief cooking, and cabbages, water cress, as well as citrus fruit. f) Proanthocyanidins; purple fruit and vegetables, blaeberry, elderberry, red cabbage and onions, beets, black and red beans et cetera, protect the cells from oxidation (like rust on iron containing metal), and extend the life of the cells.

Understanding arrhythmia

The heart beat affects the heart but is not controlled by the heart. The rhythm is regulated by sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous systems. The main influences are from B vitamins, adrenal, thyroid, and reproductive hormones (primarily progesterone and testosterone) and cholesterol from fish and seeds. There is interesting research done on the phonocardiograph where they are actually manipulating the cycles and peak dimensions using different B vitamins.


The Daily Telegraph, 15th November 2013
Statin dangers could outweigh the benefits for low-risk patients
by Nick Collins, Science Correspondent

Wider use of statins will have minimal benefit and could needlessly expose thousands to severe side effects, a leading doctor has claimed following a change in US prescription guidelines. Dr Aseem Malhotra, a cardiology specialist registrar at Croydon University Hospital, south London, said he would be "disturbed" if Britain followed America in changing prescription guidelines to widen use of statins. There is "no doubt" that the cholesterol-lowering drugs reduce the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes in people with heart disease, he said, but the potential benefits of medicating millions more who are at low risk could be dramatically outweighed by the associated harms.

Side effects experienced by up to one in five patients include severe muscle aches, memory disturbance, sexual dysfunction, cataracts and diabetes.

New US guidelines on statins, issued on Tuesday by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, recommend that doctors should consider prescribing the drugs to all people with at least a 7.5 per cent risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke within the next decade. US experts who drafted the guidance said doctors had been "undertreating" patients and that the new advice would mean "more people who would benefit from statins are going to be on them".

But the guidelines have also raised concerns among doctors in America, and Britain where current advice that statins should be prescribed to those with a 20 per cent risk over 10 years is under review. The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence has confirmed that the same recent clinical evidence which prompted the change in US policy will form part of its own decision, and experts believe the threshold could be lowered.

Dr Malhotra said: "I think it is very possible that this will also happen in Britain. One thing we have learned in the past decade is the considerable influence of a very financially powerful pharmaceutical industry over prescribing and modern medicine, and the trends suggest that this influence will have the same kind of effect over in the UK [as in America]." Statins, which cost the NHS less than 10p per patient per day, have become the most widely prescribed drugs in Britain and are currently used by an estimated six million people. Some experts have claimed that all over-50s should take the drugs routinely to lower their levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and protect against heart attacks and strokes.

But a recent analysis published in the British Medical Journal found that even patients with a 20 per cent risk of a heart attack or stroke who were over the age of 50 may not benefit from the drugs. "This expansion of the use of statins is not good for public health," Dr Malhotra said. "There is no doubt that for people with established heart disease the benefits outweigh the risks, but for people who do not have established heart disease this isn't the case ... I would be very disturbed if the UK were to follow suit."

Writing in the New York Times Dr John D Abramson, who co-wrote the BMJ review, and Dr Rita F. Redberg said wider use of statins "will benefit the pharmaceutical industry more than anyone else". They said: "Instead of converting millions of people into statin customers, we should be focusing on the real factors that undeniably reduce the risk of heart disease: healthy diets, exercise and avoiding smoking." End of Daily Telegraph article


G.P.McRostie O.M.D., N.D.

Oriental Medical Doctor, Naturopathic Physician
Diplomas in: Pain Management, Acupuncture, Connective Tissue Polarity, Massage Therapy
Certification in: Clinical Application of Functional Medicine, Applied Kinesiology, Prescriptive Authority (of natural sourced pharmacy).

Disclaimer
Ideas and information on this web site are based on the experience and training of the author(s) and the scientific information currently available. The suggestions on this web site are definitely not meant to be a substitute for careful medical evaluation and treatment by a qualified licensed health professional. The author and Albion Biologic Limited do not recommend changing or adding medication or supplements without consulting your personal physician. They specifically disclaim any liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of this web site.


References for insulin resistance and coronary disease, compiled by The Institute for Functional Medicine:

Bierman, E.L., Atherogenesis in Diabetes. Arterioscler Thromb. 1992; 32: 647-656
Aoki L, et al. Platelet dependent thrombin generation in patients with Diabetes Mellitus: effects of glycemic control on coagulability in diabetes. J Am Coll Cardiol 1996; 27: 560-566.
Zhang J, et al; Influence of glycation on LDL-induced generation of fibrinolytic regulators in vascular endothelial cells. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1998; 18: 1140-1148
Haffner S.M, et al. Cardiovascular risk factors in confirmed prediabetic individuals: does the clock for coronary heart disease start ticking before the onset of clinical disease? JAMA 1990; 263: 2893-2898.
Psaty B.M, et al. Traditional risk factors and subclinical disease measures as predictors of first myocardial infarction in older adults. The Cardiovascular Health Study. Arch Intern Med 1999; 159: 1339-1347.
Yeni-Komshian H, et al. Relationship between several surrogate estimates of insulin resistance and quantification of insulin-mediated glucose disposal in 490 healthy non-diabetic volunteeers. Diabetes Care 2000; 23: 171-175.
Beckman J.A., et al. Diabetes and Atherosclerosis: Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, and Management. JAMA 2002; 287: 2570-2581.
Reavan, G.M. Banting Lecture 1998: role of insulin resistance in human disease. Diabetes 1988 37; 1595-1607.
Yip J, Facchini F.S, Reaven GM. Resistance to insulin mediated glucose disposal as a predictor of cardiovascular disease. J. Clin Endocrinol Metab 1998; 83: 2773-2776.
Feskens EJM, Kromhout D., Hyperinsulinemia, Risk Factors, and Coronary Heart Disease The Zutphen Elderly Study. Arterioscler Thromb 1994; 14: 1641-1647.
Fontbonne A, et al. Hyperinsulinemia as a predictor of coronary heart disease mortality in a healthy population: the Paris Prospective Study, 15-year follow-up. Diabetologia 1991; 34: 356-361.
Ferrannini E, et al: Insulin resistance in essential hypertension. NEJM 1987; 317: 350-357.
Despres J.P, et al. Hyperinsulinemia as an independent risk factor for ischemic heart disease. N Engl J Med. 1996; 334: 952-957.

Dietary sources:

Devaraj, S., I. Jialal, and S. Vega-López. "Plant Sterol-Fortified Orange Juice Effectively Lowers Cholesterol Levels in Mildly Hypercholesterolemic Healthy Individuals." Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology 24:3(2003): e25-8. 15 Sep. 2008 http://atvb.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/24/3/e25

Finley, J. W., J. B. Burrell, and P. G. Reeves. "Pinto Bean Consumption Changes SCFA Profiles in Fecal Fermentations, Bacterial Populations of the Lower Bowel, and Lipid Profiles in Blood of Humans." The Journal of Nutrition 137:11(2007): 2391-8. 15 Sep. 2008. http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/abstract/137/11/2391.
Higdon, Jane. "Micronutrient Information Center: Fiber" Linus Pauling Institute. 22 Dec. 2005. Oregon State University. 12 Sep. 2008 http://lpi.oregonstate edu/infocenter/phytochemicals/fiber/index html.
Lichtenstein, Alice H., L. J. Appel, M. Brands, M. Carnethon, S. Daniels, H. A. Franch, B. Franklin, P. Kris-Etherton, W. S. Harris, B. Howard, N. Karanja, M. Lefevre, L. Rudel, F. Sacks, L. Van Horn, M. Winston, and J. Wylie-Rosett. "Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations Revision 2006: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee." Circulation 114(2006): 82-96. 18 Sep. 2008 http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/114/1/82
"The Role of Nuts in a Healthy Diet." cnpp. usda. gov. Dec. 2000. U. S. Department of Agriculture. 12 Sep. 2008
http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/NutritionInsights/Insight23.pdf
Ueshima, H., J. Stamler, P. Elliott, Q. Chan, I. J. Brown, M. R. Carnethon, M. L. Daviglus, K. He, A. Moag-Stahlberg, B. L. Rodriguez, L. M. Steffen, L. Van Horn, J. Yarnell, and B. Zhou; INTERMAP Research Group. "Food Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake of Individuals (Total, Linolenic Acid, Long-Chain) and Their Blood Pressure: INTERMAP Study." Hypertension 50:2(2007) 313-9. 15 Sep. 2008 http://hyper.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/50/2/313

Further references: compiled by The Institute for Functional Medicine (PDF - 1.10MB)