Posts filed under ‘Heart Health’

Unintended Consequences of Cholesterol Drugs

An important study in England and Wales that didn’t make much of a ripple here in the U.S. reveals the downside of statin prescription drugs. It turns out they cause more problems than they solve.

First, some background. More than 50 million prescriptions were written for statins in Britain in 2008, an increase of 80% from just 4 years earlier. see article: A Nation of Pill-poppers. However, it turns out that this avalanche of ingested chemicals entails some unintended consequences.

A study published in The British Medical Journal in May of 2010 revealed that for every 10,000 high risk women treated with statins, the plus side would be approximately 271 fewer cases of heart disease and 8 fewer cases of esophageal cancer. However, the negative impact included 74 patients with liver dysfunction, 23 with acute renal failure, 307 with cataracts and 39 with muscular weakness (myopathy). This totals 443 female patients with negative effects from these drugs. The figures were similar for men, except the rates of myopathy were higher. (BMJ 2010;340:c2197).

These risks persisted throughout the course of therapy and were highest in the first year. The risks of developing one of these problems decreased within 1 to 3 years after stopping use of the drug. Query: Do you know anyone who has ever been taken off a cholesterol-lowering drug? I certainly don’t. Besides which, many of the injured people have suffered irreversible damage.

Do you find this alarming? Apparently the medical profession doesn’t. In an editorial published in the same edition of The British Medical Journal two senior cardiologists opined that while statins are not entirely free of adverse events, when used according to prescribing guidelines, the benefits outweigh the risks.

This new research result needs to be assessed in light of other studies demonstrating memory loss and cognitive problems in fully 50% of patients taking statin drugs. 56% of patients in another case study noted improvement in their mental faculties when the statin was removed. [case report] There are a handful of “observational” studies – no parameters given – claiming that there was a lower risk of dementia among patients receiving statins. This is typical of what I see in the medical literature. Any studies that indicate pharmaceuticals may be harmful are quickly buried by “research” (paid for by the drug companies, of course} that seems to show the opposite. In many cases, actual adverse outcomes are buried by using parameters that are too broad to isolate a specific risk group.

With regard to statins, they are now being almost universally prescribed for lower and lower total cholesterol levels. In the medical world, there is no such thing as cholesterol levels that are too low. However, there is a correlation with an increase in malignant disease in patients whose cholesterol levels fall below 150. This is particularly true for men. Low Cholesterol & Increased Cancer Risk

I have commented on this before, but let me simply reiterate the down side of statins, in addition to the items mentioned above.

  1. Since these drugs not only limit cholesterol production, but also eliminate the production of enzyme CoQ10 in the body, they inevitably lead to heart failure. The drug companies are aware of this, but refuse to publicize these facts.
  2. Cholesterol is one of the most important chemical substances in our body. We use it to make all of our steroid hormones, including sex hormones and adrenal (stress) hormones. It is also found in every cell membrane in our body and is essential to the health of neurons. Remember, brain tissue is largely composed of fats; and cholesterol functions as an anti-oxidant for fats.
  3. Men taking these drugs suffer a decrease in their total testosterone levels, resulting in sexual dysfunction and the development of “man boobs.”

Atherosclerosis (blockage of the arteries) – cited as the primary problem caused by high cholesterol – is not really due to elevated cholesterol levels in itself. It is caused by oxidized, or damaged, cholesterol. Yet, the medical laboratories no longer offer the test for cholesterol oxidation.

In truth, the emphasis on cholesterol levels and statin medications is due to the fact that the pharmaceutical companies have found a compound to alter cholesterol production in the body. Despite the barrage of advertising, the truth is that the Framingham study (the single largest longitudinal study regarding heart disease in the U.S.) found almost no correlation between cholesterol levels and heart attacks. The authors of the study admitted as much in an article published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 1987.

So, the choice is up to you. You can follow the accepted “wisdom,” or you can question the “experts” and take responsibility for your own health. There are natural, effective and healthful alternatives. The drug companies are now trying to capitalize on these natural remedies by offering patented, synthetic (and in, many cases, harmful) versions of beneficial compounds. Watch for my next newsletter wherein I will discuss this issue.

If you want assistance in customizing a program to optimize your health, please contact the Clinic and make an appointment for a consultation.

By the way, you can also download associated articles as pdf files:
A Nation of Pill-poppers  (use link above.  This link is coming)
Some Statins Have Unintended Effects and Warrant Closer Monitoring, Study Finds

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July 8, 2010 at 4:50 pm Leave a comment

Heart Health & Chondroitin Sulfate

It’s time for a clinical update.  About two years ago, while preparing a discussion of heart disease for my doctors’ class, I ran across some information that I thought was tremendously exciting.  A simple nutrient: chondroitin sulfate (CS) – was proven to reduce plaque formation in atherosclerosis.  In fact, it had been demonstrated to remove plaque from arterial walls.  I was astounded that it was not in general use, since the information has been in the medical literature since the 1970’s and 1980’s.  The gentleman who did the research comes with the highest medical credentials, as well.  He was Dr. Lester Morrison, Chairman of the Department of Atherosclerosis Research at Loma Linda University.  His discovery was truly life-saving.  In one long-term study lasting 6 years, only 7% of the patients receiving CS died from cardiovascular disease, compared to 23% in the control group.  Nonfatal cardiac events were similarly decreased.  An animal study conducted at the same time demonstrated that cardiovascular disease was reversed in monkeys with oral administration of CS.

The side effects were simple:  abundant hair growth, improved HDL levels, improved connective tissue integrity and joint flexibility.  The chondroitin also prevented clot formation.  See the article  Discussion of Chondroitin Sulfate for an in-depth discussion of how it works and further medical references.  Be sure to scroll down to the section on cardiovascular health.

I immediately began prescribing high doses of CS for people whose hair was thinning and for those with cholesterol deposits in their arteries.  The results are now in and the results range from some improvement to amazing.

First, the “some improvement.”  Some people noticed a marked increase in their hair growth.  For others, the results were not as good.  The dosage was high 6,000 to 8,000 mg per day – dropping to 1600 mg for maintenance after 9 to 10 months.  The combination of improving thyroid function with iodine supplementation and CS seemed to work the best.   (Watch up-coming newsletters for more on the importance of iodine supplementation.)

In the “amazing” category are the results with atherosclerosis (aka, hardening of the arteries, or plaque deposits).  In order to monitor plaque deposition, I have been examining the retinal field; since that is the only place you can visualize the arteries without expensive imaging studies.  After as little as 3 or 4 months on high dose CS, I began to see changes in the retinal field.  People whose arteries were “copper wire” in appearance – indicating severe plaque deposition – began to show improvement.  And, at 6 months, the changes were even more marked; the arteries no longer looked like wires, there were only intermittent speckles of plaque.  By 9 to 12 months, several of my patients had complete resolution of the abnormalities in their retinal arteries.

In addition, I had another pleasant surprise.  A second indicator of what is medically called “hyperlipidemia,” which is basically high blood fats, including cholesterol, began to clear up.  The indicator is called a senile arcus and is a cloudy, half moon shape at the top of the iris of the eye (the colored part).  It looks dull and opaque from the fatty deposits.  These, too, began to diminish and are now practically all gone.

Another “amazing” result was that, at the same time, I had a patient with right-sided heart failure.  His response to CS was truly amazing.  Within about 5 weeks, all of his symptoms had resolved and the right side of his heart had returned to normal.  I attribute this amazing result to the CS restoring the integrity of his connective tissues, which cause him severe problems.

This is exciting news, since all of the pharmaceuticals recommended to correct problems with blood fats have serious problems, ranging from heart failure to liver problems to dementia and memory loss in older people.  These drugs are among the most widely used – and most toxic – on the market.

The only downside that I see to taking CS is that you must take it daily to continue to receive the benefits.  Once your arteries are clear, the dose drops to 1600 mg per day, which is four capsules.  However, given the fact that it keeps your blood vessels young and resilient, I consider this a minor inconvenience, at best.

November 3, 2009 at 6:05 pm 30 comments

TIM RUSSERT’S DEATH AFFECTS US ALL

Dateline:  Saturday, June 14, 2008

    Yesterday was a shocking day for me – as I imagine it was for you, as well.  Although I didn’t watch Tim’s show, he was an almost ubiquitous presence in many of the news programs I listen to – often quoted or even interviewed.  What was clear to me was that he loved his family deeply; and he made time in a very busy life to write an entire book as a tribute to his father.  That, to me, put him in the category of “a wonderful man.”

    Today I read the autopsy reports and his medical history released by NBC news  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25145431/.  I also heard some morning news shows where the hosts were baffled by his sudden death.  I don’t want to seem ghoulish, but for the benefit of everyone, I think it is important to look critically at this event, with the intention of giving all of us insights into what we can do to avert heart disease for ourselves and those we love.

    One of the newspeople – sorry, I don’t actually know her name – made a very good point.  She said, “But, he was doing everything right.  He was taking his medications and had exercised on the treadmill the morning he died.”  (Or, words very similar to these.)  What struck me was the plaintive tone in her voice, and it got me to thinking.

    If someone with Mr. Russert’s resources couldn’t avert an untimely death, what can we do?  I assume that he had the very best in medical advice and care, since his medical history is a roster of diagnoses:  diabetes, high cholesterol, enlarged heart and arteriosclerosis; and – oh, yes – he was obese and under a lot of stress – as though those issues somehow accounted for everything.  Many subsequent interviews I saw focused on reducing life stress.  When all else fails, blame the victim!  http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20080613/sc_livescience/howstressanddietcauseheartattacks

What I guess I find most disturbing is the trite repetitions of the very same medical advice that didn’t help Tim.  For example, eat a low-fat diet, lose weight, exercise and reduce stress.  Oh, yes, and consult your doctor for medications.  These canards seem particularly empty in the face of such a devastating loss.

    I feel compelled to offer dissenting – and hopefully, more effective – advice. 

    First of all, the medications routinely prescribed for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes ALL contribute to heart failure (an enlarged heart).  These medications are, in fact, mandated – a doctor has to prescribe them unless s/he wants to be sued for malpractice.  But, the drug cocktail Mr. Russert was taking, believing he was doing everything he should, was clearly not effective, since he suffered a heart attack secondary to a piece of plaque breaking loose in an artery.

    Secondly, none of the drugs in use medically today can remove plaque from the arteries, thereby averting such a deadly event. 

    And, thirdly, the standard dietary advice is just plain wrong!  This is probably the item that makes me the angriest.  The medical profession is in thrall to the drug companies as they push ever more toxic drugs to lower cholesterol while, at the same time, recommending a dietary regime that guarantees that cholesterol levels will continue to rise.  The single deadliest misconception in America today is that high fat diets lead to high cholesterol.  If you consult any first-year biochemistry text, you will discover that the precursor to elevated cholesterol is a diet high in carbohydrates.  In fact, when the blood supply to the heart is cut off – resulting in a loss of oxygen to the heart muscle – the one molecule the heart can use to maintain itself in these dire circumstances is:  HIGH QUALITY FAT!  Beta-oxidation of fats is the heart’s back-up mechanism in the face of hypoxia.

    I have been treating heart patients for more than half of the 21 years I have been in practice, and I can tell you from my patients’ wins that it is possible to drop your cholesterol to normal simply by limiting your carbohydrate intake to less than 200 gms per day.  That’s plenty of carbohydrate to keep you out of ketoacidosis, but a small enough amount that you have to get enough to eat by loading up on vegetables with protein at every meal.  A huge salad, a medium baked potato and 3 or 4 ounces of protein – from any animal source – is an ideal meal. 

    In addition, there are natural, proven remedies to avert heart failure and remove plaque from the arteries.  These include:  high quality B vitamins, CoQ10 and chondroitin sulfate (both in mega doses).  Quality hawthorn (leaves and flowers), which is called “nursemaid to the elderly heart,” is also very effective in turning around heart failure.  However, the current medical “news” claims that vitamins are dangerous and life-threatening!  (See my article on this topic "Vitamin Propaganda Continues."  Click on the category "Codex" to the right.) How irresponsible and disastrous to all of us.

    I have been trying very hard to spread the word to as many people as possible, because I feel impelled to get the word out that there ARE effective actions you can take – actions more effective than popping toxic pharmaceuticals.  I recently did a teleseminar on this very topic.  If you want to know more, the CD and teleseminar notes are available through my web site www.RichardsFamilyHealth.com 

    In conclusion, I just want to express my sympathies to the Russert family.  Losing a beloved family member is never easy; it is much more wrenching when it is so sudden, public and unexpected.

June 15, 2008 at 8:28 pm Leave a comment

Hydrogenated (trans) Fats Being Whitewashed

Have you heard the latest?  The medical community is attempting to change public perception of trans fat!  After all the bad publicity about how dangerous hydrogenated fats are to the health of your heart, the latest article on WebMD [dated March 7, 2008] attempts to cloud the issue by asserting that “Not All Trans Fats are Equally Risky.” {www.webmd.cm/cholesterol-management/news/20080307/not-all-trans-fats-are-equally-risky}

If you read this article, you might think that trans fats are something natural, and therefore, OK.  The article actually states “Trans fats, or ‘trans fatty acids,’ come in two forms:

Industrial trans fats are artificially created by manufacturers by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils; these are called ‘partially hydrogenated oils.’ This makes the oils more solid to give foods like cookies, pies and french fries a rich, crispy texture.

Natural trans fats are found in meat (cow, sheep and goat) and dairy products.  These trans fats are made naturally in the stomach of these animals.”

Now, with just a cursory reading, doesn’t that make it sound like hydrogenated oils are simply an offshoot of a naturally occurring substance?

Well, the truth is something quite different.  There are minute amounts of  trans fats in dairy and meat products, specifically those made from C18 monounsaturated fatty acids, almost half of which are a substance called vaccenic acid.  This trans fat is metabolized by humans into conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has protective influences on the heart and blood fats.

However, that is a far cry from the “industrial” trans fats that now comprise such a large part of the American diet.  The problem is that this information is being used to desensitize people to the harm trans fats can cause.  One example comes from the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency, which wrote in a letter dated September 21, 2004 that “The main issue with hydrogenated fats relates to their content of trans unsaturated fatty acids (trans fats).  These trans fats occur in nature in dairy produce and the flesh of ruminants, e.g. beef, lamb.”

This is downright misleading.  Unfortunately for the margarine industry, the latest studies demonstrate that artificial (or industrial) trans fats reduced HDL (or good) cholesterol and raised LDL (or bad) cholesterol.  The naturally occurring compounds, which the body can actually metabolize had no such effect.

Therefore, you shouldn’t be concerned about the tiny amount of trans fats in dairy products.  However, you need to be vigilant about hydrogenated oils or shortening added to prepared foods that you consume.  And, above all, read every news release carefully so as not to be fooled by the food industry!

March 14, 2008 at 10:41 am Leave a comment

B Vitamins & Cardiovascular Disease — Fact From Fiction

I want to comment on the continuing barrage of “news” stories, claiming vitamins are dangerous – and may even cause cancer!!  Believe me, if that were the case, I would be the first to tell you about it.  It’s the reason that I don’t utilize either human growth hormone or melatonin in my practice.  Both have been demonstrated to have tumorogenic activity.  In a word, they cause tumors to grow. 

What you need to understand concerning the studies being reported in the media is that these are not actual experiments.  They are “meta-analyses.”  What does that mean?  It means essentially that someone did a literature search and then did a statistical analysis.  No parameters are established over the quality of the supplements used, the dosages prescribed, or the condition of the people taking the products.    It is very reminiscent of the “study” that announced that vitamin C was useless in treating cancer, because the dying patients given the vitamin C only extended their lifespan a few days to weeks – they all still died.  This is the caliber of the “research” that is going on, because the drug companies, who are the primary funders of such studies are desperate to regain the market they see as being lost to nutritional supplements.

I would like to highlight two studies that received a lot of press in March of this year.  The reports appeared in the March 16th issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, and their conclusions were touted far and wide.  B vitamins, especially B vitamins designed to lower homocysteine levels, do not help cardiovascular disease.  However, one of the two studies did determine that there was a “marginally significant” decrease in stroke risk after supplementation.

The first study, called the Norwegian Vitamin (NORVIT) trial, randomly assigned almost 4,000 men and women who had already had a heart attack to receive folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12, or a placebo.  There was a 27% decline in homocysteine in 3 years, but the researchers found no significant effect on whether people had another heart attack.  The second study, called the Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation (HOPE) 2 study had similar results, but did find a slight reduction in stroke among the group taking the supplements.

The conclusion stated, however, is misleading.    There was a blanket condemnation of vitamin supplementation with the statement, “B vitamins do not prevent heart disease.”

However, when you read further, there are a few problems with these findings.  For one thing, these studies were not preventative.  The test subjects were individuals who already had cardiovascular disease and damage to their arterial system. The study populations included individuals with medical histories that included heart attacks, heart disease, diabetes and other problems.  The fact that there was a reduction in strokes suggests that the reduction in homocysteine actually did reduce inflammation and subsequent clot formation. 

And, since the individuals were already ill, the studies provide no data concerning the efficacy of B vitamins in preventing the development of heart disease in healthy individuals.  The researchers were using a medical model; they were trying to treat or reverse heart disease in sick people. 

The study design was also flawed.  In the NORVIT study, there were 4 groups:  one received folic acid; another received vitamin B6; a third group received both; and the fourth was given placebo.  Yet, in our complex metabolism, these vitamins work together to achieve a metabolic result.  They are co-factors in the pathway that metabolizes homocysteine.  And, in the NORVIT study, it appears that B12 was not included.  Yet, it is an important co-factor in this pathway.

The other issue I have is that the dosages used were quite low, and were not adjusted for body weight.    In the HOPE study, the subjects were given 2.5 mg of folic acid, 50 mg of vitamin B6 and 1 mg of vitamin B12.  There is no indication that they were given the complete B complex, as well.  You cannot give isolated Bs, without creating a deficiency in other factors in the B complex.  And, we already know that vitamin B1 deficiency can cause heart attacks.

In addition, these individuals were already under medical care for a variety of health conditions and were also taking pharmaceuticals for their heart condition.  And, the little known fact is that many cardiovascular and diabetic medications deplete folic acid, as well as other nutrients.

When you consult unbiased sources, the results are quite different.  Statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Center for Health Statistics reveal the following.  With the advent of the refining of wheat (essentially removing ALL B vitamins from flour) in the early 1900s, deaths from heart disease began to skyrocket.  The statistic went from essentially zero in 1920 to a high of 300 per 100,000 population in 1970 (the year vitamin sales in the U.S. began to take off).  From 1970 through 1990 deaths from heart disease dropped in direct relationship to the increase in vitamin sales.  Vitamin sales in 1970 were barely $10 million, but by 1990, they had increased exponentially to $1.5 billion. 

This sort of data makes the drug companies squirm.  It suggests that there are safe, non-drug alternatives to their products.  Which, of course, translates to lost profits.

Please be vigilant and skeptical of these studies.  Remember, all of them are funded by chemical companies who have a large ax to grind.  In chiropractic research, we have a huge problem with funding because there is no commercial interest in finding safe, non-invasive alternatives to drugs and surgery. I also believe that the American public is being conditioned to accept major restrictions on access to herbs and vitamins – a kind of behind the scenes approach to the Codex Alimentarius.  Keep informed and make your voice heard to legislators who may want to limit your rights.

August 30, 2007 at 2:32 am Leave a comment

Vitamin E and Heart Health

Have you heard the latest? It’s been on all the network shows (watch for my topic: How Controlled is the Media on Health Issues?). WebMD (a site set up specifically to counteract the availability of alternative health care information on the net) has come up with an article opining that Vitamin E is dangerous! That it may increase the risk of death and that no one should take more than 400 IUs.There are several things wrong with this outrageous statement. The first, and most obvious, is that no references are given and no studies are cited. The conclusion was reached after a vaguely defined "statistical analysis". No effort was made to define the variables, nor was any rigor applied to the type of vitamin E in question. Yes, Virginia, there are differences in vitamin E! The vast majority of vitamin E in America is d-alpha tocopherol (a synthetic), which is the raceme of vitamin E that has NO activity in the heart. You need gamma tocopherol for heart health. Almost everything on the market and certainly all vitamin E added to foods is d-alpha. That’s because it’s manufactured from soy by one of the largest companies in the world. They claim it’s "natural" because it comes from soy, but all the other racemes have been stripped away. The only vitamin E that’s worse for you is dl-alpha tocopherol. The "dl" clearly indicates that the tocopherol was manufactured, and no one bothered to purify it and extract the biologically active form — the "d". So, many people may be taking "dl" alpha tocopherol and the body cannot use or process the "l" form. Our bodies can only use dextro-rotary tocopherols. Everything else is junk. So, the "l", or levo-rotary forms, just gum up our enzymes. Who knows how many individuals in the "study" were taking junk vitamin E? The other outrageous statement (and, I suspect, the true point of the article) is that vitamin E can "interfere" with the action of cholesterol-lowering drugs, which are characterized as "life saving." This really frosts me. These cholesterol-lowering agents are responsible for the epidemic of congestive heart failure we have in this country. They interfere with the synthesis of enzyme CoQ10 and lead inevitably to heart failure, because the heart can’t function without it. And you can’t get CoQ10 from food, you MUST manufacture it! But, we are being urged to avoid a natural and healthful substance and substitute poisonous chemicals in its stead. Does anyone smell a rat? This study smacks of the one that came out recently saying that vitamin E had no effect on heart disease. Of course, the study was set up to fail, since it was done using d-alpha tocopherol; which, as everyone now knows has NO effect on the heart. And, this knowledge has been around for more than 20 years. So, set up a study using the wrong form of vitamin E and VOILA! The exact result you wanted. Which is now gospel, because, of course, an M.D. said it! Be good to your heart. Be sure you get checked for your true nutritional needs, and take the supplements that will keep you young, vital and away from medications. The less pharmaceuticals you take, the longer and healthier your life will be. Visit my web site (www.RichardsFamilyHealth.com) to find out how to get a personalized program.

November 10, 2004 at 2:53 pm Leave a comment

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