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The Heart Attack Myth

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According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US with nearly 600,000 deaths in 2010, a rate of one out of every four deaths.  About 715,000 heart attacks occur in the U.S. each year.  Half of these deaths happen in the first hour outside the hospital, and for those who survive long enough to reach the hospital, there is a 6 to 9% early mortality rate.  What many people do not realize is that if you have Type II diabetes, your risk of heart attack or stroke at least doubles, and may occur at a younger age. Heart attacks account for 60% of deaths in patients with diabetes. Both Type I and Type II diabetes speed the progression of hardening of the arteries (plaque buildup).  Most importantly, many people do not realize that diabetes actually causes two types of neuropathy – peripheral, which affects legs, feet, toes, arms, and hands – and autonomic, which may affect heart, bladder, and digestive functions.  Autonomic neuropathy can mask the chest pains which are warning signs of an impending heart attack.  In these patients, a heart attack may present with symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting.  It  may feel like onset of a flu virus and cause delay in recognizing these as signs of heart problems before a massive heart attack occurs. This is exactly what happened to my brother Bob recently.  He had been feeling generally not well, and thought he was coming down with some kind of flu.  Generally he described being tired, achy, and nauseous, but resting seemed to help.  He missed some work but then went back.  Two weeks later he suffered a  massive heart attack in the wee hours of the early morning, a couple days before Thanksgiving.   Bob  felt no chest pains, or any kind of pain, but the feeling of being unable to breathe had increased to the point where he got up and asked his wife to take him to the hospital, which fortunately was across the street.  Even then he didn’t realize it was a heart attack and didn’t feel he would make it if they waited a few minutes longer to go to Sentara Heart Hospital.  They found he was having a heart attack and initially were able to stabilize him, but things began to deteriorate as his heart was damaged and not pumping well, so they sent him over to Sentara.  They were planning to do bypass surgery, but he wasn’t strong enough to stand it and so they were going to sedate him and put him on a heart pump ( a temporary balloon pump) and respirator for a few days to give his organs a chance to rest and recover.  However, Bob’s condition continued to deteriorate and he went into cardiogenic shock with multi-organ failure.  Last weekend the doctors were offering virtually no hope.  He was on full life support, surgery was not possible, his body was shutting down. We were told last Sunday that he would certainly die without some of the drugs they were using which could not be continued, and the balloon pump for his heart would have to come out as that could be left in for only a few days at most, and his heart would surely not be able to continue beating without it. Bob’s liver and kidney showed no signs of recovery, and they did not think he could breathe on his own without the respirator. Many prayers were going up however, and annointing with Frankincense essential oil, which  may help soothe inflammation and stress.

Studies published in The Lancet, Vol 379, issue 9822, 31 March 2012 pp 1205-1213 and The Lancet, Vol 379, issue 9822, 31 March 2012 pp 1214-1224 provide strong evidence for the role of evidence in heart disease.  Until quite recently, it was thought that elevated cholesterol levels resulting in plaque buildup on the artery walls was the root cause of coronary heart disease.  Today, most cardiologists agree that inflammation of the lining of the arteries is more of a root cause.  Also, plaque buildup, which is calcification of the arteries (hardening of the arteries) may occur with perfectly normal cholesterol levels, and results from imbalance between calcium and magnesium, and Vitamin D and vitamin K2 as we shall presently see.

On the Monday morning after Thanksgiving, we went to the hospital prepared to turn things off and let Bob go, but now the doctors were offering some hope.  They were able to stop the drugs they thought he would die without and his liver and kidney were finally showing signs of recovery.  They removed the heart pump, and as the sedation wore off, finally the respirator, and his CT scan came back perfect, eliminating concerns about neurological damage due to oxygen deprivation.   Gradually Bob is coming back, awake and able to talk now, improving a little each day, truly a miracle.

So what exactly is the Heart Attack Myth?  Well, there are several really.  The main one is that your heart may be in serious trouble before you realize it or recognize potential warning symptoms.  In Bob’s case, there is a strong family history of heart disease, especially in the men of the family, which tends to occur at about that age.  However, he had been taking precautions for years.  He was active, not overweight,  and very health conscious, trying hard to eat the right foods.  He thought he had the Type II Diabetes under control also, and was careful to avoid sugar and processed foods, but he was more worried about his wife’s health issues than his own.  Karen  had undergone heart bypass surgery the year before – she had suffered two heart attacks following taking the drug Avandia for her Type II diabetes. Avandia has been the subject of more than half a million lawsuits for causing serious heart complications and death in diabetes patients, and according to one FDA scientitist, Avandia is linked to at least 100,000 heart attacks.  However, instead of taking this dangerous drug off the market, the FDA is content simply to require additional warnings on Avandia labels and focus its energy on trying to proclaim that walnuts and cherries are drugs.

Another part of the myth is that like many people, none of us had ever heard before that diabetes can mask the warning signs that your heart is in trouble or that you may be having a heart attack.  Feeling tired, achy, and nauseous would certainly seem like a flu bug coming on, especially this time of year, working in an office where that is going around.  Resting seemed to help, and this was also a clue that Bob’s heart was under severe strain, but that too seemed to logically fit with the flu symptoms.  He never felt any of the more typical chest pains or angina pain, but what spurred him to go to the hospital was waking in the early morning hours and feeling unable to breath.  When your heart isn’t getting enough blood, it also is not getting enough oxygen.  This may result in lightheadness, dizziness, or simply a feeling that  you can’t catch or breath or draw a deep satisfying breath.

Congestive heart failure or an overstrained heart that is not pumping adequately may lead to pulmonary edema.  Blood then backs up into the veins that take blood through the lungs to the left side of the heart.  The resulting pressure pushes fluid into the alveoli of the lungs and can cause shortness of breath.  This can also be a clue to possible heart problems, but may be often dismissed as people often chalk it up to just getting older or being out of shape.   Signs of a heart attack may be different for men and women, and different still for older adults, so too often these less expected warning signs get attributed to something else.  Nausea and stomach pain ranging from mild indigestion to stomach cramping and vomiting should be paid attention to, particularly if it comes on suddenly, you haven’t been exposed to stomach flu, and it seems different from your usual digestive patterns and not tied to anything you ate. Instead of pain in the chest, shoulder, or arm, some may experience the pain as along their jaw, running up their neck, or between the shoulder blades.  Heart pain may come and go instead of being constant like a pulled muscle, and/or move to a slightly different location. A crushing fatigue that lasts a few days, not one you can keep going and manage to make it through, but you just have to lay down and rest, is another indicator.  Swelling and fluid retention in the feet, ankles, and legs may occur because they are farther from the heart and circulation is poor.

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is interrupted by a blocked artery, usually due to rupture of a plaque in the artery, which in turn results in blood clots.  Plaques are caused by hardening of the arteries, or arteriosclerosis, which is  buildup of deposits of calcium.  Additionally, another type of hardening of the arteries may occur called atherosclerosis with some fats, cholesterol, and macrophages ( a type of white blood cell that ingests foreign material) on the artery walls.  Deprived of its vital blood supply, a portion of the heart muscle actually dies when a plaque rupture occurs.  Cardiac arrest on the other hand, is simply an irregular arrhythmia called ventricular fibrillation, and usually results in death unless a defibrillator can be used to shock the heart fairly quickly and CPR is performed in the meantime.

Research indicates that magnesium deficiency in the diet, more than high cholesterol, is the real culprit behind heart disease.   In a Brazilian study, 82% of 51 type 2 diabetes patients tested were also found to have magnesium deficiency.   Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of The Magnesium Miracle, recommends frequent small meals of protein in addition to avoiding sugar and white flour; using stevia as a natural sweetener, and supplementing with an absorbable form of magnesium as depleted soils and processed foods make it impossible to obtain enough magnesium from diet alone.  For years we have been taught that we should take twice as much calcium as magnesium, but in fact the correct ratio is closer to 1:1.

Dr. Dean further explains that  too much calcium in the heart muscle cells can cause them to go into life threatening spasms of heart attack while sufficient magnesium allows the heart muscle to relax.  Magnesium guards the calcium channels in the heart and is maintained at 10,000 times greater concentration in the heart cells than is calcium.  According to Dr. Dean, magnesium works as a natural calcium channel blocker.  It helps to regulate blood sugar, and when it is at sufficient levels in the body, will naturally limit cholesterol to its necessary functions.  While formerly it was thought that bad cholesterol came from your diet, it is now known that the majority of cholesterol is manufactured by the liver and requires the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase.  Anti-cholesterol statin drugs work by completely inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase, while magnesium speeds up or slows down cholesterol production according to the body’s needs. Magnesium also helps to prevent abnormal blood clotting.

Few people also realize that Vitamin K2 is necessary to take with calcium to direct and ensure it is deposited in the proper places such as bones and teeth instead of in the arteries.  K2 is 20 times more bioavailable and readily used by the body than standard Vitamin K or K1.  K1 or phylloquinone is found naturally in plants and green leafy vegetables and is important to maintain healthy blood clotting.  K2 or menaquinone however, is made by the good bacteria that line the gastrointestinal tract.  It does much more than clotting, and works synergistically with both calcium and vitamin D.  According to Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue, in an interview with Dr. Joseph Mercola, studies indicate at least 80 – 85% of the population is deficient in K2 which  is critically important for guiding calcium to where it belongs in the body, such as to the bones and teeth, while at the same time preventing, and even clearing out calcium deposits from soft tissues and arteries.  While Vitamin D creates proteins that move the calcium to the right places in the body, these proteins are vitamin K2 dependent and it is necessary to also take K2 in order to activate the benefits of Vitamin D. Specifically, MGP (matrix GLA protein)  will find and remove calcium from arteries, heart valves, and all kinds of soft tissues, but it needs to be activated by vitamin K2 to accomplish this.  For supplement, Dr. Rheaume-Blue recommends  150 – 200 mcg  (or up to a miligram, which is 1000 mcg,  if you are taking vitamin high dose vitamin D) of MK7 (menaquinone – 7 which is a long chain form naturally derived from the good bacteria through a fermentation process.  It is typically extracted from natto bean. The shorter chain version MK4 found in animal based foods such as egg yolks and butter is most often synthetic when seen in supplement form.  Synthetic vitamin forms like synthetic essential oils do not work the same or provide the same benefit.   If you don’t have grass fed food and/or certain fermented foods in your diet, you are likely to be deficient in K2 and at higher risk for heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

There are several essential oils that may help to support healthy cardiovascular and circulatory systems  Again, it is very important to be sure that any oils you use are genuine, pure therapeutic grade oils from a reputable company which maintains high quality standards and uses a a variety of testing methods.  Frankincense, either the Boswellia sacra or Sacred Frankincense from Oman, or high quality Boswellia carteri from Somalia are the two species which provide the most therapeutic benefits, and research strongly indicates that the Frankincense brought to the Christ child was one of these two.  Dr. Mahmoud Suhail confirms that Boswellia sacra  is the only species of Frankincense actually grown in Oman, although other species are traded in the marketplace and may be purchased there.  An increasing number of companies profess to offer true Boswellia sacra for sale, however, until recently this prized species was reserved only for royal families and the Oman government remains steadfast in stating the only company which they have granted permission to export genuine Boswellia sacra  is Young Living.

 

To  learn more about different therapeutic grade essential oils and how they may support a healthy lifestyle, please visit The Oil Well.  For more information on the leading essential oil companies, their history, testing, and quality standards, check out the 45 page Young Living/DoTerra report

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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and this information is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. 

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Author: ocequine3

Brenda Tippin is a Biologial Technician, Free-lance writer, and Morgan horse historian who has studied and used natural health products for more than 30 years. She is an independent distributor of Young Living Essential Oils which she has used successfully for herself, family, friends, horses and other pets. Brenda has written more than 40 articles for The Morgan Horse magazine since 1985, as well as other equine publications. She is a consultant and member of the project team for a new documentary film being developed on the Morgan as America's first horse breed, and is currently working on a book of her compiled articles and research. Brenda is also the author of the 45 page Young Living/DoTerra report avaliable for free download (small donations appreciated to help defray costs of research.) Brenda has worked for the US Forest Service since 1979 in a variety of projects including wildlife surveys and 26 seasons staffing a remote fire tower to spot forest fires.

2 thoughts on “The Heart Attack Myth

  1. Really good work Brenda. Well organized , researched and written

  2. Wow: Beautiful Well Written Article. The best and most authoritative I have ever seen. Thank You So much!