How DO I Prevent a Heart Attack?

Okay so now I posed the REAL question: How do I prevent a heart attack or for that matter, a stroke and while we are at it, how about preventing cardiovascular disease?

These are pretty down to earth questions that unfortunately are rarely stated out loud. It’s not the topic of conversation at your weekend dinner party.

And even when you are with your primary care doctor or nurse practitioner, do you ever really have the time or the guts to ask such direct questions? Not really. It’s almost philosophical and by that I mean political. Who really controls the conversations about our health? I will tell you who in a minute.  See if you can guess.

My nine year foray into this field of heart health has led me to some startling discoveries.

My own story began actually in 1990 which seems like two and a half decades ago. (Oh, it IS two and a half decades.) I had my first adult physical compliments of the Canadian health system. I had just returned from an 11 year tour of Asia, mainly India. I was a missionary.  

I was 37 years old. I was told I had high triglycerides and that I should stop using sugar and begin using artificial sweeteners. Can you imagine a doctor telling a patient to use aspartame? So I did. For years! I suppose it still happens but for me to think about it now, I still feel a sense of shock even disillusionment.

Fast forward 15 years and in 2005 I was diagnosed with metabolic syndrome and VERY high triglycerides. Apparently the Canadian Doctor failed to inform me that eating French fries was the same as eating sugar; that eating bread was the same as eating sugar; that carbohydrates are sugar. It took a few more years for me to get that understanding, and then more time to take it seriously enough to actually CHANGE my way of eating.

For nearly two years now I have been eating much healthier. I am not the greatest at getting enough exercise but I am doing better by following a very simple regimen. The key is simplicity. The key is repetition which is to say, if you are going to succeed at anything, you need to make it a habit.

So who is in control of the health conversation? My wager is on the pharmaceutical industry. How many times in a day are you told to “ask your doctor about….” Pharmaceuticals are a two edged sword. They can save life in extreme circumstances and they also take life. The highest cause of hospital related deaths are due to mistakes made in the dispensing of pharmaceutical drugs. In my personal circle, I know of a young man was killed by a psychiatrist’s prescription. Somehow he prescribed a dose of 80mg when 10mg would have been expected. Why the pharmacist didn’t catch the mistake? Everyone is just so busy these days. And you do what your told. Haven’t you learned that by now?

The simple answer to the introductory questions is a single word: Prevention. PREVENTION.

Prevention is a blanket word. It can cover a wide berth of issues and actions.

STATINS: Statins are the synthetic drug of choice and a recommendation published late last year in the Journal of Cardiology is lowering the bar on who should be prescribed a statin. It’s a multi-billion dollar play by guess who? Statins were invented by scientists who studied the biochemical action of a Chinese herb called red rice yeast. They noted that cholesterol was reduced by a daily dose and were able synthesized the molecule responsible for shutting down the production of cholesterol in the liver. Despite problems with muscle spasms, memory loss and liver damage,  it’s the drug of choice prescribed by doctors more than any other class of drugs. Does it prevent heart attacks? No. So why is it being prescribed? It lowers cholesterol.

Half of people who die from heart attacks are on statins and have a perfect or normal cholesterol score. Tim Russert was such a person who while on a statin with normal cholesterol levels died of a massive heart attack. He was known for asking the tough questions. He was known for his intensive research so he could know what the truly tough questions were. In his style we should be willing to ask the tough questions of our medical advisers and not just accept the status quo.

ASPIRIN: Can I just take an aspirin to prevent a heart attack? The FDA, whether you believe in their advice and recommendations or not has just recently concluded that taking a daily dose of aspirin prior to a first heart attack does nothing to prevent heart attacks. The 81 mg of aspirin as a daily dose is often prescribed if you survive the first heart attack to assist in preventing a second occurrence. Holistic practitioners have other means and ways of accomplishing the same thing.

* If you are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, call 911. If you do not have a history of aspirin allergy, emergency personnel may advise that you chew one standard 325-milligram aspirin slowly. It’s especially effective if taken within 30 minutes of the onset of symptoms. (WEBMD)

HIGH POTENCY OMEGA-3: The best advice I’ve found:  Take a dose of high potency Omega-3 daily. That is foundational. It’s first of all an anti-inflammatory. Most cases of cardiovascular disease can be traced to an inflammatory condition where the immune system is out of balance and basically attacks itself. Too much pro-inflammatory oils and foods cause the immune system to go to war and then you have to deal with the collateral damage. Eat less bake goods, forego bread, cakes and cookies. In fact, when and where possible eat whole, raw and organic foods as the mainstay. If you can at least move out of the aisles of the supermarket and shop the perimeter of the store where the refrigerated products are, you will be better off. Omega-3 also acts as a natural blood thinner. If you are prescribed a blood thinner, it doesn’t mean you can’t take Omega-3 but you should inform your doctor that you don’t want to stop taking your OMega-3 and he can adjust the blood thinner dose.

A daily regimen of 2.5 grams of high potency Omega-3 is the smartest thing a person can do according to Dr. Barry Sears. If you do nothing else for your heart, at least do this. It’s called the 15 second a day prevention plan.

Tame triglycerides with a combination of diet (foregoing sugars of all sorts) and using two dietary supplements: Omega-3 and Berberine.

Tame high blood pressure with Hyperlose.

Tame blood sugars with Diacetinol.

What else can I do?

Check for the next email… There’s always another chapter.

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