Prevent and Treat Heart Disease with Natural Medicine
Prevent and Treat Heart Disease - By Jacob Teitelbaum, MD
In the last month, there's been a lot of good news for those who want to prevent and treat heart disease. This is the #1 killer of Americans. Three recent studies show that simple, natural treatments can lower your risk of a heart attack. Two additional new studies show that a pair of medications typically prescribed to prevent heart disease – statins and aspirin – are riskier than was previously thought.
Let's Look at the Medication Studies First
In a study on cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, researchers from the University of Massachusetts analyzed health data from more than 150,000 postmenopausal women, aged 50 to 79. They found that taking statins creates a link to increase the risk of developing diabetes by 48%. And no one type of statin was at fault. All types of statins linked to higher risk.
Disturbingly, statins linked to an even higher risk of diabetes in Hispanic and Asian women, at 57% and 78% higher, respectively. And women who weren't overweight – a group that is normally not at risk for developing diabetes – were at as much risk as women who were overweight.
What does the research show? Statins are wonderful for people with known heart disease. Yet, they are not a good idea for those without known heart disease who are simply trying to lower their cholesterol.
In the new study on aspirin, UK researchers analyzed data from nine other studies involving more than 100,000 people. They found that taking a daily aspirin to prevent heart disease increased the risk of serious stomach bleeds by 30%. However, this only decreased the risk of "cardiovascular events" (nonfatal heart attacks and cardiovascular death) by 10%. "On a routine basis, I would not recommend aspirin use in primary prevention," said the study leader in an interview. I agree with that recommendation.
But there's plenty of good news, too — about natural ways to prevent heart disease.
Researchers at the University of Scranton tested nine different kinds of raw and roasted nuts and two types of peanuts for the ability of their polyphenols (powerful antioxidants) to stop the oxidation of LDL, the process that triggers artery-clogging plaque. The #1 nut in both the roasted and raw categories: the walnut. Brazil nuts took second in both categories.
Pecans, raw pistachios and roasted hazelnuts were powerful, too. Hence, try to eat a handful or two of nuts a day. And don't worry about weight gain; studies consistently show nuts are so satisfying a snack that those who eat them regularly don't tend to put on weight.
There's also heartening news for women who enjoy the heart-protecting power of alcohol, but worry about its possible role in breast cancer. As an example, in a study on premenopausal women, researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that red wine is a nutritional aromatase inhibitor. It stops the conversion of free testosterone into estrogen, a risk factor for breast cancer.
Wine in Moderation
In other words, drinking red wine in moderation (one drink a day for women) may not pose a cancer risk. "For those who consume wine, I would suggest red wine," said the study leader in an interview. "For those who drink other alcoholic drinks, I would suggest switching to red wine."
Finally, a new study of more than 29,000 people from 52 countries shows what many studies have already shown: exercise has the power to reduce the risk of heart attacks – in this study, by up to 24%. 
Non Drug Approaches
Non-drug approaches can also powerfully help treat heart disease, including problems such as angina, abnormal heart rhythms and congestive heart failure. Here are the key nutritional treatments for heart problems that I use in my practice:
Ribose (5 grams, 3 times a day). This nutrient is key to energy production in the body, including the heart.[7,8]
Coenzyme Q10 (200 to 400 mg a day). [9,10] This nutrient is also critical for energy production and is especially important for anyone on cholesterol-lowering medications, since they cause Coenzyme Q10 deficiency.
Acetyl-L-carnitine (500 mg, 3 times a day, for six weeks, then 500 mg a day). This compound also boosts energy in heart cells.
Magnesium orotate (6,000 mg a day for one month, followed by 3,000 mg a day for 11 months). The benefit is both from the magnesium and from the orotate, a compound that is manufactured in the body by good bacteria and was once considered a B vitamin (B13).
Hawthorne extract (200 mg 3 times a day). This nutrient improves heart failure symptoms.
It is also a good idea to include a good multivitamin as well. Many nutrients (including magnesium and B vitamins) play a key role in energy production in the heart and throughout the body.
 Culver AL, Ockene IS, Balasubramanian R, et al. Statin use and risk of diabetes mellitus in postmenopausal women in the Women's Health Initiative. Archives of Internal Medicine 2012; DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2011.625
 Taylor F, Ward K, Moore THM, Burke M, Davey Smith G, Casas JP, Ebrahim S. Statins for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD004816. DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD004816. pub4.
 Seshasai SRK, Wijesuriya S, Sivakumaran R, et al. Effect of aspirin on vascular and nonvascular outcomes: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Archives of Internal Medicine 2012; DOI:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.628.
 Vinson Ja, Cai, Y, Food & Function, 2011 Dec 21. [Epub ahead of print]
 Shufelt C, Merz CN, Red Versus White Wine as a Nutritional Aromatase Inhibitor in Premenopausal Women. Journal of Women's Health. 2011 Dec 7. [Epub ahead of print]
 Held C, Iqbal R, Lear SA, et al. Physical activity levels, ownership of goods promoting sedentary behavior and risk of myocardial infarction: results of the INTERHEART study. European Heart Journal 2012; DOI:10.1093/eurheartj/ehr432.
 Hegewald MG, Palac RT, Angello DA, Perlmutter NS, Wilson RA. Ribose infusion accelerates thallium redistribution with early imaging compared with late 24-hour imaging without ribose. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1991 Dec;18(7):1671-81.
 Perlmutter NS, Wilson RA, Angello DA, et al. Ribose facilitates thallium-201 redistribution in patients with coronary artery disease. J Nucl Med. 1991 Feb;32(2):193-200.
 Sander S, Coleman SI, et al, "The impact of coenzyme Q10 on systolic function in patients with chronic heart failure," Journal of Cardiac Failure, 2006; 12(6): 464-72.
 Weant KA, Smith KM, "The role of coenzyme Q10 in heart failure," Ann Pharmacother, 2005; 39(9): 1522-6.
 Berthold HK, Naini A, et al, "Effect of ezetimibe and/or simvastatin on coenzyme Q10 levels in plasma: a randomised trial," Drug Saf, 2006; 29(8): 703-12.
 Ghidini O, Azzurro M, Vita A, Sartori G. (1988) Evaluation of the therapeutic efficacy of L-carnitine in congestive heart failure. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Therapy and Toxicology 26: 217-220.
 "Magnesium orotate in severe congestive heart failure (MACH)," Sepura OB, Martynow AI, Int J Cardiol, 2009; 134(1): 145-7.
 Guo R, Pittler MH, Ernst E. Hawthorn extract for treating chronic heart failure. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD005312. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005312.pub2
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