You should be aware of two studies on heart disease produced by the Cochrane Collaboration in the past 6 months. These good folks comb through medical research studies and look at the combined evidence. In fall 2012, they reported that for people with mildly elevated blood pressure, drug therapy had no impact on heart attack, stroke, or death. In fact, “about 9% of patients treated with drugs discontinued treatment due to adverse effects.” It appears that for people with systolic blood pressure 140-159 mmHg and/or diastolic blood pressure 90-99 mgHg, blood pressure-lowering drugs offered more harm than benefit. In early 2013, the Cochrane Collaboration reviewed 18 research trials and found that “of 1000 people treated with a statin for five years, 18 would avoid a major CVD event.” This means that less than 1% of people on statins received a great benefit. For many of us, drug therapy has limited results.
Yet we cannot afford to get sick! Every 30 seconds, someone files for medical-related bankruptcy. Our top killers are heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. We’ve seen almost no change in cancer death rates since 1971 (New York Times, Apr 2009). Chronic illness is 70% of medical expenses, but it is also about 75% preventable! This is great news! Cancer does not develop purely by dumb luck. Five fail-safe mechanisms have to break down.
Understanding inflammation is key to understanding chronic illness. According to Time magazine (Feb 2004), “Toxins, diet and infection can cause inflammation directly, or by triggering a gene that sparks your immune system to attack itself and drive chronic inflammation.” In the short-term, inflammation is a normal part of the healing response. Chronic inflammation contributes to disease by damaging cell membranes so fewer nutrients get in, wastes accumulate, and cells can’t “hear” hormones. This places us in a state of hormone resistance: Type 2 diabetes, thyroid disease, or weight loss resistance. Chronic inflammation has also been linked to heart disease, cancer, depression, Alzheimer’s, and autoimmune diseases. Our main sources of inflammation are bad fats (trans/hydrogenated and inflammatory fats like seed oils), sugars, and toxins (heavy metals, plastics, pesticides, and household cleaning products).
Your Heart Health To-Do List!
- Switch to good fats: Grass-fed organic meats, olive oil, coconut oil, and butter. Supplement with high-quality EPA/DHA “fish oil.”
- Cut way back on grains & sugars. Ideally, have 1 serving of whole grains daily (brown/wild rice, quinoa). Replace sugar with stevia & xylitol.
- Reduce toxicity in your home and your food. Switch to cleaner household products. Drink only spring or reverse-osmosis filtered water. Re-evaluate your use of personal care products.
- Get 21stcentury health testing, so you know what’s going on inside your body.
- Vitamin D, available as a fingerprick test. For optimal health, you need 50-80 ng/mL.
- Lipid peroxidation (Meta-Oxy) to measure oxidative stress and cellular damage.
- Nerve system testing to identify body malfunctions caused by accumulated stresses.