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THE BIGGEST CULPRIT IN THE HEART DISEASE
Dedicated to my friend Frank Dannenberg
One minute you are enjoying a stroll in the park and the next you feel as if an elephant just stepped on you. Clutching your chest and violently gasping for air, you suffer the eventual outcome of heart disease: a heart attack. This year alone, this silent killer will catch up to over a million Americans. Each and every one of them will die prematurely from this unfortunate scenario. Worldwide, it will kill more people than any other affliction. This can be stopped.
The underlying cause of a heart attack is narrowing of the arteries. The process is known medically as atherosclerosis. Beating a dead horse, cardiologists confidently describe atherosclerosis as a plumbing problem: Fat and cholesterol-laden gunk gradually builds up within the arteries. If this build-up (plaque) grows thick enough, it eventually plugs an affected "pipe." This prevents nutrients and oxygen-rich blood from reaching its intended tissue (technically known as ischemia). Blood-starved tissue dies. When a part of the cardiac muscle or the brain is affected, a heart attack or stroke occurs.
In 2004, Time magazine told the world that there's just one problem with the cholesterol hypothesis: “sometimes it's dead wrong.” More than half of the people who suffer from heart attacks have “low cholesterol.” And “high” cholesterol (300-350mg/dL) is a natural and healthy part of aging. The higher total blood cholesterol the longer people live. Targeting this natural phenomenon, drug companies have convinced people otherwise – while profiting immensely.
If fat and cholesterol were the culprit in heart disease due to their ability to “plug the pipes,” then these ubiquitous substances would clog the entire 100,000 miles of adult veins, arteries and capillaries. Instead, 90% of the time, heart disease is caused by the narrowing of the spaghetti-sized coronary arteries – those that rest over the heart. The rest of the cardiovascular system that nourishes the body remains perfectly healthy despite being rich in cholesterol and fat. This common sense observation renders the cholesterol and fat theory of heart disease obsolete. If you want to avoid feeling like an elephant is crushing your chest, look beyond cholesterol.
Coronary arteries bear little resemblance to pipes. Instead, they are made up of muscle sandwiched between two “structural” layers. When the muscle of arteries becomes inflamed “atherosclerosis” or heart disease can set in. This is initiated by damage to the innermost structural layer that faces the bloodstream. Science has made great strides in identifying what causes damage to this layer.
Aside from smoking, the biggest culprit in today’s heart attack pandemic is high blood sugar. It leads to a condition known as insulin resistance or early Type-II diabetes. Suicide in slow motion, insulin resistance causes blood sugar to float in the blood longer than it should. Muscle no longer vacuums it from the bloodstream. Over time, blood sugar reacts with amino acids floating nearby. The product of this reaction is a Swiss Army knife termed advance glycated end (AGE) product.
AGE products cut and stab deep into structural layers of coronary arteries. Medically, this is termed glycation. The slicing and dicing explains why diabetics have four times the risk of heart attack relative to non-diabetics. Overcome with high blood sugar, they face the butchering process of AGE products.
Coronary arteries are most susceptible to AGE products due to the mechanical stress in the region (heart beat). As the heart beats, the structural layer, being made up of collagen and elastin, becomes sensitive to them. Arteries not subject to mechanical stress do not expose the structural layer as readily. Therefore, they are not as sensitive to the butchering.
Damage caused by AGE products leads to “crosslinking.” Once crosslinking occurs, supple, healthy, coronary arteries become rigid – the same thing can happen to skin. This is where the name atherosclerosis was derived. The term combines two Greek words, athere (porridge) and sclerosis (hardening).
Crosslinking causes the body’s natural repair mechanism to take over. The inflammation cascade begins. This is an age-old immunological defense mechanism. Among the smooth muscle of coronary arteries, inflammation acts as nature’s band aid. Plaque can be the end result.
Inflammation and plaque causes the cavity that allows blood flow through the arteries to become narrow – occlusion occurs. The whole process of glycation, crosslinking and inflammation can begin as early as three years of age!
Fortunately, narrowing of coronary arteries is not a death sentence. Arteries do not become swollen so much that it shrinks the bloodstream to a pinpoint. And healthy arteries have the ability to accommodate for the inflammation by “relaxing” or dilating. This ensures that blood flow continues without interruption – and that heart disease goes unnoticed.
This protection of dilation is primarily dependent on the short-lived molecule known as nitric oxide. Without it, excessive narrowing of arteries can manifest into hypertension, poor circulation, erectile dysfunction and decreased tolerance to exercise.
Nutritional approaches such as l-arginine and grape seed extract that maximize nitric oxide have proven to be a bonanza for heart disease patients who want to curb their annoying symptoms of heart disease naturally.
Most heart attacks and strokes creep up on victims when inflammation goes haywire. This is typical among Americans because inflammation-causing sugar has become a dominant ingredient in their food. Consequently, what should be temporary for healing becomes long-term and deadly. The overly aggressive inflammation cascade causes plaque (nature’s band aid) to rupture. This rupturing triggers the emergence of a blood clot (thrombus).
The combination of narrow arteries and a blood clot causes a person’s fate to become sealed, along with their coronary arteries. This prevents blood from reaching downstream to the heart and/or brain. The condition is known as “ischemia.” Deprived of blood and oxygen, a heart attack or stroke is the outcome. The elephant is standing on its victim.
In summary, heart disease is not a disease of clogged pipes due to cholesterol and fat. It is a disease of glycation, crosslinking, inflammation and more inflammation. The inflammation occurs within – not on – arterial walls. Today, it is typically the result of high blood sugar.
Understanding this working model of heart disease has highlighted a wildly effective way to prevent the pandemic killer: Control blood sugar. Aside from cinnamon, proper sunshine and green tea, other methods of controlling blood sugar have been discovered:
1. Interval training can lower blood sugar by up to 40%. To put it into perspective, the commonly prescribed Metformin does so by a paltry 19% while putting users at risk of obesity, if they can tolerate the constant vomiting and diarrhea!
2. Nutritional supplementation with magnesium (400 mg/day) was found to improve high blood sugar among elderly individuals. Research shows that a magnesium deficiency inhibits insulin from escorting glucose out of the bloodstream into muscles. The end result is insulin resistance and an increased risk of heart attack. Magnesium aspartate has shown to be the best absorbed form of magnesium.
3. Tannic acid from banaba mimics the actions of insulin by eliciting glucose transport from the blood stream into muscle. The safe and effective blood-sugar lowering effect of tannic acid has caught the attention of Big Pharma. Many drug companies are working rigorously to create a synthetic knock-off.
4. Increasing fiber intake with a tablespoon of psyllium husk prevents dangerous spikes in blood sugar after a meal.
Controlling blood sugar has become the absolute hottest area of research. Not only does it suggest a single way of ameliorating heart disease, but also a host of other diseases caused by high blood sugar. These include but are not limited to diabetes, cancer and even Alzheimer’s! Instead of dosing patients up with a handful of drugs to treat a handful of diseases, controlling blood sugar naturally is one remedy for all three!
When every Minute Counts: Improving
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Shane holds a Master's degree in organic chemistry and has first-hand industry experience with drug research, design and synthesis. With his keen ability to sift through scientific literature and weed out fact from fiction, Shane has empowered thousands to assert their health freedom by saying "no" to prescription drugs. Learn more about his books Health Myths Exposed and The Hidden Truth about Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs.
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The underlying cause of a heart attack is narrowing of the arteries.