Heart Disease and the Cholesterol Myth
In 2006 according to the American Heart Association, 1.3 million coronary angioplasty procedures were performed at an average cost of $48,399 each, or more than $60 billion; and 448,000 coronary bypass operations were performed at a cost of $99,743 each, or more than $44 billion. In other words, Americans spent more than $100 billion in 2006 for these two procedures alone.
Despite these costs, a randomized controlled trial published in April 2007 in The New England Journal of Medicine found that angioplasties and stents do not prolong life or even prevent heart attacks in stable patients (i.e., 95% of those who receive them). Coronary bypass surgery prolongs life in less than 2-3% of patients who receive it, those with the most severe disease. In contrast, the INTERHEART study, published in September 2004 in The Lancet, followed 30,000 men and women on six continents and found that changing lifestyle could prevent at least 90% of all heart disease.
Many think of heart disease as problem men usually face, but it’s also the No. 1 killer of women in the United States. In fact, one in three women will die of cardiovascular disease. That’s the bad news. The good news is, there are many effective ways to treat and reverse heart disease without these invasive surgeries or reliance on prescription medications. I will describe these below. But let’s first shift our focus to the multi-billion dollar industry supporting prescription statin drugs and the cholesterol myth.
Noted physician, Dr. Andrew Weil at the U.S. Senate February 27, 2009 hearing on Integrative Medicine stated:
“We have powerful technology, but we misuse it and overuse it, driving up costs and worsening health outcomes. To choose just one small example, expensive cholesterol-lowering statin medications, which may have serious side effects, are being recommended for millions of healthy women and healthy men over 69 years of age, but an analysis in the January 2007 issue of the medical journal, The Lancet, concluded that such medications did not reduce total deaths in those groups.”
[Source: The Lancet, Volume 369, Issue 9557, Pages 168 – 169, 20 January 2007, http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(07)60084-1/fulltext]
For side effects, one of the worst classes of prescriptions, it appears, are the statins. A review paper co-authored by Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and director of UC San Diego’s Statin Study group, cites nearly 900 studies on the adverse effects of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins), a class of drugs widely used to treat high cholesterol. “Muscle problems are the best known of statin drugs’ adverse side effects,” said Golomb. “But cognitive [memory, thinking] problems and peripheral neuropathy, or pain or numbness in the extremities like fingers and toes, are also widely reported.” A spectrum of other problems, ranging from blood glucose elevations to tendon problems, can also occur as side effects from statins.” [Source: Golomb BA, Evans, MA 2008 “Statin Adverse Effects: A Review of the Literature & Evidence for a Mitochondrial Mechanism.” American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs.]
Conditions commonly called “Heart Disease” are actually part of a broad spectrum of symptoms involving narrowing of the arteries. The process by which arteries become narrowed is called arteriosclerosis. Other names or descriptions of arteriosclerosis are hardening and narrowing of the arteries, plaque and atherosclerosis. It is present to some degree in all of us. Autopsies performed on young GIs killed in the Korean and Vietnam Wars revealed the large majority (78%) of these 19 to 21-year-old men had signs of advanced arteriosclerosis in their coronary arteries.
This narrowing of the arteries can cause either slow-developing or abrupt reduction/stoppage of blood flow (and thus oxygen), which will cause the following conditions:
- Circulation problems, including cold feet and/or hands
- Erectile Dysfunction / Impotency
- Angina & chest pains
- Heart disease: Heart Attack, Arrhythmias, Congestive Heart Failure
- Stroke (“Brain Attack”) or TIA (“Mini-stroke”)
- Memory loss, lack of focus, “brain fog”
- Leg cramps or pains either at rest or with exercise
- Slow healing sores
- Shortness of breath, swelling of feet
- Visual and hearing loss
- Poor digestion
- Low energy
Mechanism of Arteriosclerosis
For quite a long time, the belief among many health practitioners and most patients is that cholesterol is the primary cause of arteriosclerosis: Simply reducing your cholesterol by limiting your fat intake, or taking a prescription “statin” drug is proclaimed to be the answer to all your artery problems. The multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical and food industries and the media have promoted this belief. If only it were that simple.
We can summarize what currently is thought to be the cause-and-effect relationships in arteriosclerosis with the following sentence: The initiating event in hardening of the arteries is a localized injury to the lining of the blood vessel wall and the body’s response to this injury.
This superficial loss of arterial wall cells occurs constantly throughout the day primarily from the following three causes:
1. Ongoing injuries of low magnitude are a normal result of the stress of blood flow and routine wear and tear. Such localized injuries are more frequent and severe in the presence of such factors as high blood pressure, stress, or chlorine and other chemicals. Healthy repair defenses and antioxidants help to heal these small defects.
2. Free radicals causing damage to blood vessel walls. The rate of atherosclerosis is rapidly increased in the presence of free radicals. Heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and arsenic produce a million-fold increase in free radical reactions, not unlike an uncontrolled nuclear fission reaction. These high concentrations of free radicals create blood vessel injury resulting in a tumor-like atheroma, or plaque, rather than normal healing.
3. Blood vessel injury may also be caused by our own immune system, which may inappropriately attack healthy cells of the vessel’s lining. In 2007, the University of Ohio Medical School published a study proving that mercury is a major cause of atherosclerosis, or plaque formation because it activates an enzyme which creates an artery wall damaging acid.
It is the free radical connection, however, that is most responsible for the development of atherosclerosis, as well as degenerative diseases.
There are numerous natural approaches I use in working with patients who have heart disease or circulation problems, primarily the very effective EDTA chelation therapy, as well as nutritional and lifestyle changes. Physicians with extensive experience in the use of EDTA chelation therapy have observed dramatic improvements in the vast majority of their patients. They see angina routinely relieved, and patients who had formerly suffered searing chest pains when walking a short distance are frequently able to return to normal productive living after undergoing chelation.
The approximately 1,000 U.S. physicians practicing chelation therapy today have countless files and testimonies to prove that they are able to reverse serious cases of arterial disease. It is not uncommon for their patients to return to their cardiologists after undergoing chelation and have a normal stress EKG when all previous tests were abnormal. Other noninvasive tests that improve have been carotid MRIs, calcification scores on CAT scans, blood pressure readings (many people can come off their hypertensive medicines after chelation), improved pulses, and lowered cholesterol levels. Regardless of studies, the benefits of leg cramps resolving, angina disappearing, and physical endurance or mental acuity improving would be quite enough to justify EDTA chelation therapy. Quality of life and relief of symptoms are far more important than the results of laboratory tests.
As stated above, removing mercury, lead, and arsenic are powerful ways to stop the progression and allow the body to heal itself. The site is full of information on the side effects of mercury.
A Word About Cholesterol
While researching the current misinformation on cholesterol, I came across the recent book by Cardiologist Steven Sinatra, M.D., which I recommend. His book, The Great Cholesterol Myth, is an excellent source of correct information about cholesterol. His highly researched and peer-reviewed information promotes similar ideas held by me and the staff of Advanced Natural Medicine. Time and again our patients will repeat what they have heard about cholesterol, which is primarily from advertisements, and it includes such myths as “eggs are bad for you” and “statin drugs are good for you,” etc.
Because of the propaganda, you can be forgiven for thinking that cholesterol is a harmful alien substance that should be avoided at all costs. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Cholesterol is an essential component of the body. It is found in all the cells of the body, particularly in the brain and nerve cells. Body cells are continually dying and new ones are being made. Cholesterol is a major building block from which cell walls are made. Cholesterol is also used to make a number of other important substances: hormones (including the sex hormones), bile acids and, in conjunction with sunlight on the skin, vitamin D3. The body uses large quantities of cholesterol every day and the substance is so important that, with the exception of brain cells, every body cell has the ability to make it.
Cholesterol may be ingested in animal products, but less than 20% of your body’s cholesterol needs will be supplied in this way. Your body then makes up the difference. If you eat less cholesterol, your body merely compensates by making more. Although the media and food companies still warn against cholesterol in diet, it has been repeatedly demonstrated that the level of cholesterol in your blood is affected very little by the amount of cholesterol you eat.
Do you want to know more? Read Dr. Sinatra’s book “The Great Cholesterol Myth” where you can learn interesting facts such as:
- Cholesterol is not a deadly poison, but a substance vital to the cells of all mammals. There are no such things as good or bad cholesterol, but mental stress, physical activity and change of body weight may influence the level of blood cholesterol. A high cholesterol level is not dangerous by itself, but may reflect an unhealthy condition, or it may be totally innocent.
- A high blood cholesterol level is said to promote atherosclerosis and thus also coronary heart disease. But many studies have shown that people whose blood cholesterol is low become just as atherosclerotic as people whose cholesterol is high.
- Your body produces three to four times more cholesterol than you eat. The production of cholesterol increases when you eat little cholesterol and decreases when you eat much. This explains why the ”prudent” diet cannot lower cholesterol more than a few percentage points on average.
- There is no evidence that too much animal fat and cholesterol in the diet promotes atherosclerosis or heart attacks. For instance, more than 20 studies have shown that people who have had a heart attack haven’t eaten more fat of any kind than other people, and the degree of atherosclerosis at autopsy is unrelated to the diet.
- The only effective way to lower cholesterol is with drugs, but neither heart mortality nor total mortality has been improved with drugs, the effect of which is cholesterol lowering only. On the contrary, these drugs are dangerous to your health and may shorten your life.
- The new cholesterol-lowering drugs, the statins, may prevent cardiovascular disease, but this is due to mechanisms other than cholesterol lowering. Unfortunately, they severely reduce the important energy nutrient Co-Enzyme Q-10 and they also stimulate cancer in rodents.
- Many of these facts have been presented in scientific journals and books for decades but are rarely told to the public by the proponents of the diet-heart idea.
- The reason why laymen, doctors and most scientists have been misled is because opposing and disagreeing results are systematically ignored or misquoted in the conventional media and scientific press.