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Heart Disease— Strengthen and Protect Your Heart with This Array of Natural Aids

HERE’S A STORY I’ll never forget. My mother was admitted to the hospital in the last week of her eighty-seven-year life, which up to then had been extremely healthy and pretty happy. The doctors diagnosed her with congestive heart failure. I immediately asked that, in addition to whatever مرض the doctors prescribed, she be put on a high dose of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).

The first doctor tپرانی me he didn’t know what that was. The second doctor said he had heard of it but it couldn’t do any good and wasn’t on their hospital pharmacy list. And the head nurse said, “Oh, that’s some kind of enzyme that the heart makes when it’s in trouble, right?” I knew right there we were in for trouble.

It didn’t matter that I faxed them fifty pages of peer-reviewed literature from the National Institute of Medicine. They wouldn’t budge. And my mother, bless her heart, was of the generation that believed that if the doctor tپرانی you something, that was it. You didn’t question it.

Let me be blunt: The doctors who tپرانی me that they didn’t know what CoQ10 was or that it couldn’t possibly help were idiots. “Although coenzyme Q10 represents one of the greatest breakthroughs for the مرض of cardiovascular disease as well as for other diseases, the resistance of the medical profession to using this essential nutrient represents one of the greatest potential tragedies in دوائی,” says my friend, board-certified cardiologist, nutritionist, and noted author Stephen Sinatra, M.D.

So What Is CoQ10, Anyway?

CoQ10 has been an approved drug in Japan for congestive heart failure since 1974. And several studies have demonstrated a relationship between depleted CoQ10 levels and heart disease.

CoQ10 isn’t a vitamin; it actually belongs to a family called ubiquinones, and it’s found in most tissues in the جسم. It’s essential for the manufacture of the جسم’s energy molecule, adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. Virtually every one of the studies investigating the effect of CoQ10 on heart muscle function has reported significant and positive results.

“If there is just one thing you do to help maintain your heart’s health,” says Sinatra, “make sure you’re taking CoQ10 daily.”

L-Carnitine: Energy for a Weak Heart

L-Carnitine is a vitamin-like compound that you can obtain from your diet, but it’s also made in the جسم. The best way to think of it is as a shuttle bus. Its job is to escort fatty acids into the mitochondria (energy centers) of the cells where they can be “burned” for energy. Becaاستعمال the heart gets 60 percent of its energy from fat, it’s critically important that the جسم have enough L-carnitine to “shuttle” the fatty acids into the muscle cells of the heart.

The strongest research evidence for the benefit of L-carnitine supplementation comes from studies of مریضs being treated for various forms of cardiovascular disease. People who take L-carnitine supplements soon after suffering a heart attack may be less likely to suffer a subsequent heart attack, die of heart disease, تجربہ chest درد and abnormal heart rhythms, or develop congestive heart failure (a condition in which the heart loses its ability to pump blood effectively). A well-designed study of seventy heart-failure مریضs found that three-year survival was significantly higher in the group receiving 2 g a day of L-carnitine compared to the group receiving a placebo.

Carnitine also appears to improve exercise capacity in people with coronary artery disease. In one study, the walking capacity of مریضs with intermittent claudication—a دردful cramping sensation in the muscles of the legs due to decreased oxygen supply—improved significantly when they were given oral L-carnitine. In another study, مریضs with peripheral arterial disease of the legs were able to increase their walking distance by 98 meters when supplemented with carnitine, almost twice what those given a placebo were able to do. Congestive heart failure مریضs have تجربہd an increase in exercise endurance on only 900 mg of carnitine per day. It also appears to help alleviate the symptoms of angina.

Nutritionists have long استعمالd the combination of L-carnitine and CoQ10 as an “energy” cocktail. Though it doesn’t necessarily make you feel more “get up and go” (although for many people it does just that!), it definitely helps give your heart muscle the tools it needs to function optimally. If you think of your جسم as an automobile, then L-carnitine and CoQ10 can be thought of as agents (like spark plugs) that help turn the gas in the tank into energy to make the car go.

D-Ribose: A Mighty Molecule

D-ribose, the third component of this quartet (which Sinatra nicknamed the “Awesome Foursome”), can be thought of as the actual gas. D-ribose is a five-carbon sugar that seems to accelerate the recovery of energy during and following cardiac ischemia, a condition in which blood flow to the heart muscle is obstructed. One of Sinatra’s coauthors, James Roberts, M.D., is a marathoner who began using D-ribose on himself and found that taking it before and after a run eliminated many of the problems, like درد, soreness, stiffness, and fatigue, associated with long-distance runs. He began putting his مریضs on D-ribose and found that his sickest مریضs improved within days.

“Giving D-ribose to مریضs both before (as a cardioprotective) and following (to restore lost energy) cardiac intervention has proven to be an effective way to improve clinical outcome,” says Sinatra.

D-ribose is made in the cells, and the جسم استعمالs it in a variety of ways that are all critical to cellular function. When blood flow and oxygen are compromised as in, for example, ischemia, hearts can lose a lot of their stores of ATP (the energy molecule), and it can take up to ten days to normalize cardiac function. When you give D-ribose to مریضs with ischemia, energy recovery and function can return to normal in an average of one to two days, according to Sinatra.

Any time the energy reserves of the muscle are depleted, whether through exercise or a heart condition, ribose supplementation can help. “An adequate dose of ribose will usually result in symptom improvement very quickly,” says Sinatra. “Remember that ribose therapy directly supports the heart’s ability to preserve and rebuild its energy pool,” he says.

The Perfect Quartet

Vegetarians often lack L-carnitine in their diets (and most certainly lack D-ribose, which is primarily found in red meat and veal). Carnitine (carnis means “meat” or “flesh”) is found in mutton, lamb, beef, red meat, and pork and in only tiny amounts in plant foods.

Though certain vegetables, meats, and fish contain CoQ10, we only consume a tiny amount in our diet, not nearly enough to have a clinically important benefit. Many people feel a lot better on an “energy” cocktail of L-carnitine and CoQ10.

Rounding out the quartet with D-ribose and magnesium, as suggested by Sinatra, is a great idea, especially for heart مریضs. (Magnesium helps becaاستعمال it is critical for the making of ATP, has an important effect on cellular metabolism, has been found helpful in a wide range of cardiac conditions, and becaاستعمال approximately three-fourths of the population are deficient in it!)

When you consume magnesium in optimal amounts it improves myriad heart conditions, including angina, arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy, mitral valve prolapse, intermittent claudication, and low HDL (the “good” cholesterol). It improves energy production within the heart, dilating the arteries and helping blood do its job of delivering oxygen to the heart more effectively. Studies have shown that people dying of a heart attack have lower magnesium levels than people of the same age dying from other caاستعمالs.

There’s an interesting circular relationship between stress and magnesium. Stress caاستعمالs low magnesium levels, low magnesium levels caاستعمال stress, and the circle continues downward. Both stress and magnesium deficiency set you up for cardiovascular disease. In animal studies, giving animals magnesium has been shown to prevent this process from happening, protecting heart tissue from destruction.

Let me be perfectly clear: The combination of CoQ10, L-carnitine, D-ribose, and magnesium doesn’t “cure” heart disease. But to not استعمال it as part of a مرض protocol to strengthen and protect the heart would be a huge mistake.

How Omega-3s Help the Heart

Omega-3 blood levels are one of the best predictors of sudden heart attack. Those with the highest risk for heart attacks have the lowest levels of omega-3s. In Britain, heart attack survivors are now prescribed fish oil supplements for life in keeping with the guidelines of the British National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Many physicians also consider supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids an important part of nutritional مرض for diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

There’s also the fact that omega-3s (fish oil) have a strong impact on one of the most important risk factors for heart disease—high triglycerides. Fish oil supplements reduce triglyceride levels by up to 40 percent in some research, an astonishingly high amount. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (the research arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) analyzed 123 studies on omega-3 fatty acids and concluded that “omega-3 fatty acids demonstrated a consistently large, significant effect on triglycerides—a net decrease of 10 to 33 percent.” The effect is most pronounced in those with high triglycerides to begin with. Even the extremely conservative American Heart Association recommends 2 to 4 g of the two omega-3 fats found in fish oil (EPA and DHA) for مریضs who need to lower triglycerides.

 

WORTH KNOWING

Just as we were going to press, my friend and go-to guy for all things related to fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., wrote to tell me of a just-published study showing that in chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia مریضs, ribose increased energy an average of 45 percent.

“It is even more incredible in heart disease,” he said. Teitelbaum tپرانی me that he suspects ribose “will be the most important nutritional discovery of the decade.” According to Teitelbaum, dosing is critical. He recommends 5 grams three times a day for 3 to 6 weeks, then twice a day. “This is too important of a nutrient discovery to be missed,” he says.

Read about the story at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17109576.

Another major risk factor for heart disease is hypertension, or high blood pressure. Fish oil lowers blood pressure, albeit modestly. But its effect on cardiovascular disease overall is anything but modest. Study after study has shown that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish reduce the risk of death, heart attack, stroke, and abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). It’s been estimated that proper omega-3 fatty acid intake could reduce the rate of fatal arrhythmias by 30 percent. More than 70,000 lives could be saved each year if Americans had sufficient omega-3s in their bodies, estimates Harvard’s Andrew Stoll, M.D., author of The Omega-3 Connection.

One More Benefit

Another one of the many benefits of omega-3s is that they are anti-inflammatory. The full importance of inflammation as a factor in disease is only just now beginning to be fully appreciated.

Since inflammation is a component of every major degenerative disease from heart disease to Alzheimer’s, the importance of foods and supplements that are anti-inflammatory can’t be overstated. The anti-inflammatory action of the omega-3 fats found in fish oil has been proven in dozens of research studies, including the ongoing ATTICA study in Athens, Greece, that demonstrated direct evidence showing that omega-3s reduce blood markers of inflammation like C-reactive protein, which are increasingly accepted as key risk factors for heart disease. The anti-inflammatory action of fish oil makes it a terrific supplement for arthritis, for aging and aching joints, and for the inflamed airways of those suffering with asthma.

Stress and Cardiovascular Health

Too much stress caاستعمالs magnesium to be depleted, which can lead to hypertension, coronary artery constriction, arrhythmias, and heart attack. Here’s how it works: When you’re under too much stress your جسم overproduces substances called catecholamines. While some act as neurotransmitters and make us feel good (dopamine), catecholamines also act as hormones in the blood, and too high a level of them will caاستعمال magnesium to be released from cells into the blood and then excreted in urine.

A low magnesium level in the cells caاستعمالs heart tissue destruction. End result: heart attack.

The Magical Pomegranate

Pomegranate juice may just turn out to be one of the great natural weapons against heart disease. A daily dose of this delicious juice may go a long way toward keeping you from becoming a statistic. Studies in Israel have shown that, taken daily, pomegranate juice prevented the thickening of arteries. It also slowed down the oxidation of cholesterol by almost half—which to me is more impressive than just reducing cholesterol, since cholesterol is only a problem in the جسم when it’s oxidized. And it makes sense that pomegranate juice would have that effect becaاستعمال of its stunning antioxidant content.

“Pomegranate juice contains the highest antioxidant capacity compared to other juices, red wine, and green tea,” says Michael Aviram, D.Sc., a professor of biochemistry and دوائی at the Rappaport Family Institute for Research in the Medical Sciences in Haifa, Israel, who led the team of Israeli researchers.

The research on pomegranate juice is mounting, and it’s impressive. In one study, published in the American Journal of Cardiology, forty-five participants—all of whom had some form of ischemic heart disease—were divided into two groups. For three months, one group received 8 1/2 ounces of pomegranate juice daily while the other group got a placebo drink with the same number of calories, coloring, and flavor. The researchers found that blood flow to the heart improved by about 17 percent in the pomegranate group while declining about 18 percent in the placebo group. And this benefit was realized without any negative effects whatsoever.

Natural Prescription for Heart Health

Coenzyme Q10: 100 to 300 mg

L-carnitine: 500 to 4,000 mg

D-ribose: 5 g

Magnesium: 400 to 800 mg

FOR ADDED EFFECTIVENESS:

Multivitamin

Fish oil: 2 g

Vitamin E from mixed tocopherols or gamma-tocopherol: 400 IU

Taurine: 1 to 3 g

Pomegranate Juice: 4 to 8 ounces daily or as often as possible

Note: All dosages are daily dosages and in pill or capsule form unless otherwise noted.

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