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Friday, August 18, 2017

The Heart of the Matter: You Are Only Getting Half the Story (Part 3)

Need to read part 1 and 2?  Start here.


After watching the 2015 documentary film, The WIDOWMAKER, I felt compelled to blog about other information regarding heart health to round out the discussion.  


The film addressed technology for the problem of death due to sudden cardiac arrest, but it did not delve into the long occurring breakdown in health that got people into trouble in the first place. 

So, I offered 6 points of information and covered 1-3 in my Part 2 blog post.

What's Missing?
1- We need to talk about the nervous system
2- We need to talk about collateral arteries
3- We need to discuss why animals don't get heart attacks
4- We need to stop talking about cholesterol and change the subject to inflammation
5- We need to talk about the Jupiter study
6- We need to talk about the Poly-pill study


As a chiropractor, I offer people natural ways to maintain their health.  In fact, anything unnatural adds more stress to the body which is ultimately problematic and illogical.  These natural ways allow them to achieve health with their own efforts (with the exception of chiropractic:  someone else has to adjust the spine, but it is still a natural approach) giving people a sense of empowerment and accomplishment. 

When someone is in the midst of a health crisis, things are pretty scary and the level of anxiety pushes someone into a vulnerable state of helplessness. 

When someone is in an emergency situation, the trauma team at a hospital intervenes.  A life is saved with technological advancements, but the patient now has the daunting task of finding new life style habits to prevent a recurrence.  I don't believe it is daunting because the freedom and sense of personal achievement is powerful in healing. On the down side, the medical establishment turns to a slew of maintenance prescriptions that need constant monitoring for side effects. 

I do not prescribe drugs.  I don't want to.  As a consumer of health products, I am aware of the limitations of medicine and the risk of chemicals in the body.  I am also aware of the limitations of a body riddled with tissue damage.  When your tissues are drowning in the acidic soup of inflammation, the true source of inflammation must be addressed, and drugs only add to the fiery soup. My goal is to educate people on what is actually needed to stay alive and thrive. 

My dad died in his sleep from a coronary occlusion. But how am i sure of that?  The autopsy found the blockage, but was it really his nervous system strangled under inflammatory conditions? It was a long time ago when he was constantly given a clean bill of health after running a few minutes on a treadmill once a year.  His numbers were perfect according to his doctors .  He was taking blood pressure medication along with bile acid sequestrants. I can't remember how low his blood pressure was under medication, but his doctors were pretty happy.  

Now I blame his love of margarine for his death in his early 70's.  But I need to consider multiple factors affecting the state of his nervous system.  He was exposed to a lot of chemicals on the job that could have made his arteries stiff.  The bile acid seqestrants interfere with nutrient absorption, so I believe he lost minerals like magnesium and B vitamins that are critical for heart function. 

According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, we're no better off than 20 years ago.  Some websites state heart disease has decreased, but it is still the number one cause of death. And what about quality of life?  

4- We need to stop talking about cholesterol and change the subject to inflammation
Author, David Seaman, states in his book, The Deflame Diet,  cholesterol is "an 'innocent bystander' being unjustly blamed for clogging arteries."  He also cites recent studies that show inflammation is the culprit in atherosclerosis, not cholesterol.  Cardiovascular researchers know this is the case and the old view is no longer substantiated in the literature.  (See Chapter 20 of The Deflame Diet)  There are so many other authors out there who have already covered this topic I don't feel the need to give my readers a science lecture. 

Chronic inflammation is an underlying cause of heart and vessel dysfunction.  But you have to learn about it on your own because the medical establishment still tells you to eat low fat.  Processed food and soft drink manufacturers give money to health associations.  They will all tell you to eat anything in moderation so the money keeps flowing.  

The most inflaming foods are sugar, grains and seed oils which tends to add up to 60% of the average person's diet.  Asking someone to change 60% of his or her diet can create quite a panic, so there needs to be some type of emotional preparation.  Still, freeing someone from an inflammation catastrophe has numerous benefits in addition to improving heart health.  

5- We need to talk about the Jupiter study

Statin medications are the doctors' favorite for reducing cholesterol.  But, actually measuring if patients are better off is very difficult to prove.  I recently listened to talk by David Diamond who had to evaluate his health status.  Fifteen years ago  he was overweight and had terrible lab numbers.  He has improved all his heart disease risks by eating a low carb high fat diet and has never taken a statin medicine.  I liked his approach with the audience.  I liked that he was straightforward about the carbohydrate problem regarding overall heart and blood sugar health. I am impressed that he is a neuroscience researcher.  He understands the brain and mental function.  His critics complain he is not a heart expert, but they are missing the point that the brain and heart need the same nutrition for health.  He certainly knows how chemicals damage the brain!

He also has been critical of statin studies that poorly state their case of effectiveness yet media talkers brag about a number that is really insignificant yet blown up as major breakthrough in managing heart conditions. 

Read here: a summary of his objections to the Jupiter drug study. 

What I find interesting and helpful is really delving into the meaning of cholesterol since low cholesterol sets people up for poor health increasing their risks of infection and cancer.  Older people who have higher cholesterol in actually in better health, so it is seen as protective. As far as the damage to the brain, this is right up Dr. Diamond's alley.  Here in this link he reiterates his years of work in a rebuttal after other professionals complained of his debate with another doctor on a radio program. 


Dr. Diamond has never taken a statin and 15 years later he has had no heart attacks.  Imagine that!  What I find comical is that his doctors didn't like the fact that he used a low carb high fat diet to regain his health.  Here is a video of one of his entertaining talks.

6- We need to talk about the Poly-Pill study in Part 4.
I'm sorry that I'm taking so long to write this.  It takes a while to gather the information, even though it is readily available on the internet.  If you read David Seaman's The Deflame Diet, you will learn about the poly-pill study of researchers who want everyone over the age of 55 to take a daily pill that contains 2  blood pressure meds, an aspirin, a B vitamin (synthetic, of course), and a statin.  They did a 12 week study and took out a patent on their idea.  I'll let you know about this in Part 4.

Thanks for reading. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Heart of the Matter: You're Only Getting Half the Story (Part 2)

(Did you miss Part 1? Read it here.)

The Documentary, The WIDOWMAKER, takes a look at the challenging aspects of heart disease treatment.  Sadly, death from sudden cardiac arrest is still the number one killer of Americans.

From my perspective as a chiropractor and as I watch many people suffer from chronic heart disease, I know there is a great deal of helpful information that is barely talked about when it comes to long term health and quality of life. 

What's Missing?
1- We need to talk about the nervous system
2- We need to talk about collateral arteries
3- We need to discuss why animals don't get heart attacks
4- We need to stop talking about cholesterol and change the subject to inflammation
5- We need to talk about the Jupiter study
6- We need to talk about the Poly-pill study

1- We need to talk about the nervous system


A burdened nervous system cannot protect the heart and damage can go on unabated.  The real problem begins when the parasympathetic system is off the job.  The vagus nerve is crucial in keeping heart activity balanced.  When the vagus nerve is working poorly, the effects of stress overpower the heart.   Hypertension, diabetes and smoking greatly reduce the protective effects of the vagus nerve.  When the vagus nerve is weakened, it cannot counter the affects of the sympathetic nervous system's response to fight or flight events (stress).  

A physical or emotional stressor triggers adrenaline, this causes heart cells to break down glycogen for energy that then releases lactic acid.  The lactic acid doesn't allow calcium in the cells and the heart muscle cannot move.   Swelling occurs and heart cells die. The pressure of the swelling is what causes nearby plague to rupture.  This is a very short version to explain how the heart loses control.  

When the sympathetic nervous system is reacting to stress, it is doing it's job correctly.  The lack of vagus nerve involvement means heart tissue has been beaten up for a long time without proper maintenance.  

Chiropractic care has been shown to improve the function of the vagus nerve, the pre-frontal cortex of the brain (virtually everything) and the limbic system (emotions and mood).  

2- We need to talk about collateral arteries
The heart has numerous smaller collateral arteries that act as a "back up system" to the larger coronary arteries.  Dr Pascal Meier, a lead author on a study of collateral arteries (European Heart Journal 2011) said people with higher numbers of these collateral arteries have lower mortality even if they have coronary artery disease.  Dr.
Thomas S. Cowan of the Weston A. Price Foundation says coronary arteries don't show up on angiograms, but they are there.  If you wonder why people with a 90% blockage in a coronary artery have no pain,  it's because they have collateral arteries in place doing the work.  But also be aware of this:  the worst enemies of collateral arteries are smoking, diabetes, and high stress. They are smaller vessel so they suffer damage sooner.  This is similar to the study on smokers having more back pain.   Capillaries at the spine of smokers become damaged preventing oxygenated blood from getting delivered to the spinal joints.  So take care of those collateral arteries.

3- We need to discuss why animals don't get heart attacks
Mattias Rath, MD, wrote the book: Why Animals Don't Get Heart Attacks but People Do.  The short version is humans unlike the rest of the animal kingdom do not manufacture their own Vitamin C.  Cardiovascular disease is really scurvy of the heart and Vitamin C is protective.   Proper intake of vitamins and other nutrients are critical to maintaining heart health. Dr. Rath was good friends with Linus Pauling who asked Dr. Rath to carry on the message about nutrients and health. It is interesting to note Dr. Rath has been involved in a number of lawsuits alleging his information about disease is misleading but has been issued apologies at times by the British Medical Journal and a German court had said his free speech rights have been violated.  

The information in topics 1, 2, and 3 should help us understand the amazing workings of the body.  We don't have to fear our own bodies.  They work very well when treated with TLC.

A balanced life with chiropractic, nutrition, rest, purpose, and pleasure add up to a positive recipe for wellness.  

But, some people struggle with feeling well and under anxious conditions, they are thrust into the world of the prescription merry-go-round.  And that takes us to topics number 4, 5, and 6.  

Continued in Part 3.

The Heart of the Matter: You're Only Getting Half the Story (Part 1)

I watched the documentary, The WIDOWMAKER, a 2015 documentary chronicling political and financial positioning of stents and the coronary heart scan.  

The repeat question through the movie was how do we stop people from dropping dead from a silent heart problem?  People are dying without any warning symptoms.  Sudden cardiac arrest is still the number one cause of death. (http://www.sca-aware.org/about-sca)

It was an eye opening film about the challenge of heart disease. It showed how the invention of the stent became a booming business for cash strapped hospitals.  Doctors, hospitals and medical device manufacturers make loads of profit from the stenting procedure. 

The problem is there is no change in later outcomes.  Life span is not increased. Compared to people on medications without the procedure there is no difference.  (And I would add, quality of life may not be any better) The stent industry was being attacked for looking only at financial gain and not patient well being.  It has been shown that stents do help people with severe chest pain, but, in my opinion, the patient is still responsible for his or her own health habits hoping to not cause anymore clogging of coronary arteries.  Focusing on the patient's own self care was not the intent of the documentary.  Diet and fitness were barely mentioned.

The film also noted that a future bypass (if needed) cannot be performed where there is a stent, so it is a concern to people who develop new blockages. The film doesn't attempt to tackle the  question regarding restenosis or additional clogging.  It does seem if you talk to enough people in your own community that people go in for repeat procedures.  Since the thesis of the WIDOWMAKER was to only address sudden death, an entire conversation related to long term health was not included.  

The coronary artery scan has been available for a number of decades but has been ridiculed by doctors who didn't see the value in it.  It is a CT scan of the heart.  Blocked arteries are able to be viewed and graded for it's calcium content. As a screening tool, it was hoped it would alert doctors to people at risk so they didn't become a sudden death victim.  Doctors remarked the information wasn't helpful and they didn't know how to treat a patient in that situation. Some argued that a low cost scan is not as lucrative for hospitals compared to the surgery.  More recently the heart scan is now being accepted as part of the screening process, but in my view, it's forcing more people to go on risky medications. 

Overall, the movie was informative as a historic detailing of the two health care interventions. It did not provide any clear notions on what creates and maintains health. And, death from sudden cardiac arrest is still the number killer of Americans.

So, at the heart of the matter is how do we obtain a fuller perspective?  You are only getting half of the story.  If you are a watcher of documentaries like this, you probably know that they are a simple way to learn about a topic.  It should spur you on to do your own research.  

On a lazy Saturday night, I actually enjoy watching these types of documentaries.  These films show me there is enough global interest in empowering people with health information. But, I know there are a lot of gaps that need to be filled. 

The tag line of the movie is  "Watch this film, it could save your life."  But I believe you need more than this film.

In Part 2 of my blog post, I will share with you the other half of the story.   (Visit Part 2 Here)