The statistics on Heart Disease in our country are disgusting, yet I still don’t feel like it receives as much attention as other diseases, like breast or prostate cancer for example. It kills more people each year than all forms of cancer combined, it kills more women than it does men, and the worst part is IT IS PREVENTABLE AND LARGELY REVERSIBLE!
- Heart disease (which includes Heart Disease, Stroke and other Cardiovascular Diseases) is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 787,000 people alone in 2011.
- In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds. Every 60 seconds, someone in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event.
- Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.
- While 1 in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, 1 in 3 dies of heart disease.
- Heart disease causes 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute.
- Only 1 in 5 American women believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat.
- An estimated 43 million women in the U.S. are affected by heart disease.
- Ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
- Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease.
These are STAGGERING STATISTICS, especially for women!
The downstream effects of heart disease are often seen in middle ages (heart attacks, strokes), but autopsy studies have proven that heart disease begins in childhood. Autopsies of American children have shown up to 50% having atherosclerosis, or plaquing in their arteries, by 10-14 years old! So true heart disease prevention HAS TO START IN KIDS!!!
What’s worse is that the most common methods of treatment have major side effects and are often ineffective at best.
Aspirin - An aspirin a day keeps the heart attacks away right? WRONG. A recent study out of Japan studying over 14,000 people ages 60-85 “…found no major difference in heart-related deaths or non-fatal heart attacks and strokes between people who took aspirin and those who didn’t.” Not to mention there is evidence to support that long-term aspirin use increases internal bleeding and could lead to increased stroke risk. Just because it’s what we’ve always been told to do doesn’t mean it’s true! Who told us - Bayer??
Statins - In the U.S. some 40 million people take cholesterol-lowering medications called Statins - like Lipitor, Zocor, or the generic name Simvastatin. This is the highest selling category of drugs at over $20 Billion, and Lipitor is the highest-selling drug of all time. So do they work?
They do lower cholesterol on a blood test. But they DO NOT DECREASE THE RISK OF MORTALITY/MORBIDITY!! Many review studies have been published showing their lack of efficacy in preventing heart attacks and most importantly, preventing death. One review found that "current clinical evidence does not demonstrate that titrating lipid therapy (trying to lower cholesterol with statins) to achieve proposed low LDL cholesterol levels is beneficial or safe." (emphasis mine) Following up on this, in a major independent review of studies funded by the Ministry of Health of British Columbia, Canada on statins and primary prevention, researchers reported that "statins have not been shown to provide an overall health benefit in primary prevention trials."
So the research does not really support that statins work very well. So what. Can I take it “just in case”? The side effects are even worse than the fact that they don’t prevent death - they can cause it! Statins have been scientifically linked to over 300 side effects, including:
- Cognitive Loss
- Muscle Loss (including the heart!)
- CoQ10 depletion
- Erectile Dysfunction
So many people take statins “just because the doctor told me I had to.” The doctor isn’t your mother. I can’t legally tell you what to take and what not to take, but I would strongly encourage you to do your homework on statin drugs and be well aware of the risks and the rewards.
Blood Pressure Medications - These typically include things like ACE inhibitors and diuretics. ACE inhibitors block the action of an enzyme that breaks down something called bradykinin, which relaxes arteries. So taking an ACE inhibitor means more bradykinin in the bloodstream, more relaxed arteries and lower blood pressure. This can obviously create side effect though, which include:
- Headaches, dizziness, fatigue and nausea;
- A relentless, dry cough that just won’t shift;
- Angioedema, a swelling of the face, tongue and throat that can occur with alarming speed and can cause suffocation by blocking the airway;
- Impaired kidney function, particularly if taken together with diuretics and NSAID-type painkillers.
NSAIDs (like Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Aleve) have been shown to cause high blood pressure and “cardiovascular events” or heart attacks and strokes! Merck’s NSAID Vioxx, one of the most popular drugs ever which was pulled off the market in 2004 due to it’s direct link to heart attacks and strokes, was estimated to have caused between 88,000 and 139,000 heart attacks. I hate this one because my mom was on Vioxx. Heart disease-drug-induced kidney failure is very common among patients who are combining an ACE inhibitor, a diuretic, and NSAID drugs. The medical literature calls it a “triple whammy” of devastation.
The two scariest parts of Heart Disease are:
- It’s happening to EVERYBODY - your parents, your siblings, your KIDS. I have two sisters and a mother - 1 of them will die from heart disease, statistically speaking. I have two daughters and a wife. Prevention starts now. You have to be actively preventing it in the whole family, non-negotiably.
- Very rarely is somebody on only 1 medication for heart disease. More commonly it’s a pharmaceutical cocktail which may include a statin, an ACE inhibitor, a diuretic, an NSAID, an aspirin...and due to the combination of chemicals and side effects, it won’t be long until more drugs are added into the mix. Being on a single blood pressure medication is something that would concern me MASSIVELY because I know what happens next.
The two best parts about heart disease are:
- It’s preventable. Many many things have proven to prevent heart disease, with exercising and following an anti-inflammatory lifestyle at the top of the list.
- It’s reversible. Studies have shown that arterial stiffness can be improved, that arterial plaquing can be improved, that blood pressure can go down, cholesterol can balance out, triglycerides can go down. The body is the most amazing healing machine when you give it what it needs and remove any interference!
That’s what we teach. Schedule a heart health consultation with us in the office. Go back through our archives and listen to podcasts, read articles, and begin implementing the Real Health Lifestyle that will keep you and your family healthy and heart- (and other) disease-free. Then go out and tell someone you love and care about and don’t let them become a statistic.
- Atherosclerosis Cardiovascular Disease Beginning in Childhood http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2812791/
- Bartolucci, A.A., S. Bae, et al. A Bayesian meta-analysis approach to address the effectiveness of statins in preventing death after an initial myocardial infarction. 18th World IMACS/MODSIM Congress. Cairns, Australia. 2009
- Vrecer, M., S. Turk, et al. "Use of statins in primary and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease and ischemic stroke. Meta-analysis of randomized trials." International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics 41(12): 567-577. 2003.
- Hayward, R.A., T.P. Hofer, et al. "Narrative review: Lack of evidence for recommended low-density lipoprotein treatment targets: A solvable problem." Annals of Internal Medicine 145(7): 520-530. 2006.
- University of British Columbia "Do statins have a role in primary prevention? A review by the Therapeutics Initiative of the Department of Pharma cology & Therapeutics of the University of British Columbia." Therapeutics Letter (48). 2003.
- Diuretics, ACE inhibitors and NSAIDS--the triple whammy. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10772593
- Nephrotoxicity associated with concomitant ACE inhibitor and NSAID therapy. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2218652
- Can Pharm J (Ott). 2013 Mar; 146(2): 80–83.
Article By: Dr. Taylor Krick